Identifying San Diego as particularly important because of its strategic location, numerous military installations, and rapidly expanding war-related industries, the Army decided to deploy cavalry units along the California-Mexican border because of the extremely rugged terrain east of San Diego. Soldiers on horseback could patrol the hills and gorges, places inaccessible even to vehicles as had been done several years ago by the cavalry units. As the newspaper put it, "Along the Mexican border and in the areas surrounding the dams impounding San Diego county's water supply system, the horse cavalry, is the only Army unit able to function effectively in this period of national emergency."
The cavalry troops were to be stationed at Camp Lockett, a sprawling military
base on the Mexican border about 60 miles southeast of San Diego near the
small town of Campo, CA. Completed in December 1941, the construction of
Lockett construction transformed this small tranquil border town into a
bustling military post.
The 11th Cavalry Regiment was immediately replaced at Lockett by the 4th Cavalry Brigade, currently made up of two regiments - the 9th and 10th Cavalry. Consequently, the 4th Cavalry Brigade, in preparation for their relocation, moved the 9th Cavalry to Fort Clark, TX, for continued training for combat and patrol along the Texas-Mexican border. The 9th and 27th Cavalry, active at the Texas post, eventually became the assigned troops of the 5th Cavalry Brigade. Then, concentrating on the pending mission, the 4th Cavalry Brigade Headquarters and the 10th Cavalry, under the command of Col. Waldemar A. Flack, made plans for their relocation to Camp Lockett, CA.
Brigadair General Thoburn K. Brown and an advance party of the 4th Cavalry
Brigade arrived at Camp Lockett to finalize their mission plans to act in the
capacity of the new base unit for the Headquarters Southern Land Frontier
Sector (SLFS). On 30 June 1942 the SLFS moved into Lockett by convoy from
Phoenix, AZ. In mid July, the SLFS was followed by its 4th Cavalry Brigade
with the 10th Cavalry Regiment. Moved incrementally by rail, they were
transferred to Lockett from Camp Funston, Ft. Riley, KS.
On 15 July 1942 the 2nd Cavalry Division was inactivated. However, the 4th Cavalry Brigade and its regiments were to remain active. In the constant and somewhat fluid reorganization of the structure of the Army, in November 1942 the War Department reactivated the 2nd Cavalry Division and the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were reassigned, but remained in their respective locations of Ft. Clark, TX and Camp Lockett, CA.
From 1942 to 1944, the cavalry troops at Lockett patrolled the border from the Otay Lakes area, north and east of Chula Vista, to El Centro in the Imperial Valley. They also provided security details for water supplies, the railroads that served as the city's only direct link to the manufacturing centers in the east and the communications links that were vital to region of San Diego. In addition they were assigned the mission of interdicting an invasion that military strategists feared might come through Mexico.
On 25 February 1943 the 2nd Cavalry Division was reactivated with Headquarters at Ft. Clarke, TX. The 3rd Brigade, 9th and 27th Cavalry, remained at the Texas post and became the assigned troops of the 5th Cavalry Brigade. The 10th and 28th Cavalry Regiment, newly activated and assigned to the 4th Cavalry Brigade, located at Camp Lockett, made up the 4th Cavalry Brigade. With the additional patrol strength undergoing basic training and instruction in cavalry operations, Colonel Burnett went to Fort Bliss, TX, where he selected 369 horses from those turned in by the 1st Cavalry Division when it was dismounted in February 1943. An additional 1,080 horses came from the Remount Station at Ft. Robinson, TX.
At Camp Lockett, the 10th Cavalry performed the same duties as their predecessors, patrolling the border, guarding the dams, and providing security for the trains and communication systems. In addition, in late December of 1942, the 10th participated in war games against the 140th Infantry, headquartered during the war in San Diego. The infantry soldiers maneuvered against the Cavalry in the mountains at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. The infantry was no match for the horse soldiers.
The 10th Cavalry worked around the hills keeping out of sight and spotted some infantrymen in an open field. The cavalry worked its way down through the forest, spread out in a line, drew pistols and charged. Needless to say a rout ensued with several hundred horses baring down on the infantry and all pandemonium broke loose. The cavalry camped for the night and the following morning made a forced march of 44 miles back to Camp Lockett.
With the war confined to the European and the Pacific theaters, the newly
acquired cavalry skills and training as a whole, would not be tested because
the War Department had developed a plan to use the 2nd Cavalry Division
personnel to form needed service units in overseas operations. The Southern
Land Frontier Sector had already been deactivated at Lockett. In January 1944
the War Department ordered the 2nd Cavalry Division and its elements to
dismount and prepare for deployment overseas.
Following arrival and staging, the 10th Cavalry Regiment was inactivated on 20
March 1944. Personnel were transferred and reassigned to service units and
assets were transferred to the 6486th Engineering Battalion. This action
marked the end of an era "the horse cavalry regiments" in the United States
Army which were being replaced by mechanized units. The Cavalry Branch was
eventually merged with the armored units and renamed Armor Branch in 1950, as
a recognition of "a continuation of the cavalry."
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