Caisson horses provide dignified burials; adoption required for their dignified retirement

A silent procession for Ret. Gen. Robert Cone, marches through Arlington National Cemetery, Dec. 9, 2016, in Arlington, Va. The caisson platoon and it horses have the honor of carrying a comrade for their last ride to Arlington National Cemetery, where they will rest in peace with other honored dead. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes)

An Army adoption program aims to do right by the horses who have served, with dignity and distinction, so many. The goal — give Caisson horses the distinguished retirement they so rightfully deserve.

The Caisson Horses of The Old Guard participate in all Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps Full Honors Funerals performed in Arlington National Cemetery. The beautiful and magnificent animals serve with the men of the Caisson Platoon daily to ensure final honors are given in a dignified, professional, and respectful manner.

To pay it forward for the long and distinguished service of each and every horse in in the Caisson Platoon, the Army offers the horses, which in their tenure serve in thousands of funerals for our nations heroes, for adoption.

The program is designed to ensure each horse is rewarded with a great home as the animal enters its well-earned retirement.

The Army is very serious about finding a perfect match for each of its majestic horses and has created a webpage so potential, adoptive families can see available horses and learn about the adoption process.

The page allows prospective caregivers to download the Caisson Horse Adoption Application and describes how the Old Guard determines a family’s eligibility.

The Caisson Adoption Project helps pair horses with a perfect home — just like it did for horse Quincy who retired to live with George Whitaker, a fellow retired veteran.

Michael Murphy, Caisson horse adopter, prepares Surefire, for the ride back to his farm in Orange County, Va. After 13 years of dedicated service, Surefire, a Caisson horse from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was officially adopted Dec. 18, 2016 here and moved to his new farm. (Army Staff Sgt. Kelvin Ringold)

“We are a very patriotic family, the flag flies on the farm every day,” said Whitaker in a heartwarming video (at bottom of article) published by Great Big Story. “It just became a unique opportunity for another veteran to retire on the farm.”

Whitaker, whose farm is a rehab farm for horses with any variety of issues, describes how the Army makes sure the horse will be properly cared for the remainder of its years.

Whitaker describes in the video how Quincy lives much like he did in his previous life.

“He wears his dog tags just like he used to, but now they read, ‘retired veteran,’” he said. “Quincy will spend the rest of his life on the farm as my companion, and as long as he has a quality of life he will live on the farm — forever.”

Horses like Quincy have bared witness to countless funeral ceremonies. They have carried the flag draped caskets of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Douglas MacArthur, John F. Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson and countless others who have served the nation with distinction.

The horses bring dignity to their riders, themselves and to the deceased … for these reasons, the Army’s Caisson Adoption Project proves America, and the Army, is forever grateful for their service.

If you want to dedicate your life to a horse that’s devoted his life to its country, visit the Army’s Caisson Horse adoption website.

YouTube video

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  • Jim Verchio is a staff writer for Popular Military. As a retired Air Force Public Affairs craftsman, Jim has served at all levels. From staff writer to Editor-In-Chief, he has more than 30 years experience covering military topics in print and broadcast from the CONUS to Afghanistan. He is also a two time recipient of the DoD’s prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award for journalism excellence.

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