Horse Returns to Owner After 16 years in the National Guard Service

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By Pam Teel

Maggi Romano and her husband, both of Millstone Township, bought the horse, Re-Elect, when he was just three years old. He was racing at the time and after a short vacation, he started racing for Maggi’s team in Freehold, NJ, NY (Yonkers, Monticello) and Virginia (Colonial Downs). He was injured at a turnout farm and was soon retired from racing. After he healed, Maggi wanted to find a good home for him so he could be used as a riding and pleasure horse. After hearing that the military sometimes take quiet, black horses for their ceremonial units, they were put in touch with the Caisson Platoon of the National Guard in Indiana. The horse was approved, an adoption contract was signed, and someone came and picked him up. His military name became Reed. Over the years, Mag- gi’s husband once got to see Reed in Indianapolis, but Maggi wouldn’t see Reed again for another 16 years. They lost touch because some of his handlers were called to active duty overseas and he was passed on to other handlers.

This past August, Maggi received an email from Chaplain Lasher of the Indiana National Guard that after 16 years of service the beloved member of their pla- toon, Reed, earned his retirement. According to the adoption contract, she had to be contacted before any action was taken. The platoon could find a retirement farm in Indiana for him or they could bring him back to Maggi in NJ. Maggi and her husband decided to let him come back to them. Maggi traveled to In- dianapolis for Reeds official retirement ceremony. His stable mate, Midnight, a tall Percheron, was also retired. He was adopted by a Gold Star Mother in Indianapolis who lost her son in Afghanistan. The woman runs a therapy program for veterans. Percheron will be part of that therapy.

Some of Reed’s handlers were present at the ceremony, as well as some high ranking officers and some non-military staff. They thanked Maggi for letting him be a part of their Platoon and Ceremonial Unit for so many years. They commented on what an outstanding job he did and that they were sad to see him leave. They were very happy that he could spend his forever home back with Maggi. Maggi was presented with a beautiful picture box with the folded flag, the horse’s badges, and the adjutant’s seal. It reads, “To all who shall see these presents, Greetings: Be it known, SFC Reed having completed sixteen years of faithful service to state and nation, while serving as a member of the Indiana National Guard. Whereas having served with distinction, unselfish devotion to duty and total dedication has been placed upon the RETIRED Roll, Indiana National Guard. In testimony, Whereof, I do confer this Certificate Given under my hand at the city of Indianapolis this 9th day of September in the year of our Lord two thousand and nineteen.” The Adjutant General. Chaplain Lasher explained to Maggi and her husband that only funerals for the rank of Sergeant Major, Chief Warrant Officers, Colonels, Generals, 1star Generals, and 2nd star Generals, and in the private sector, governors and Senators, have an out rider horse that is riding in front of the procession, or a CAP horse, that follows the casket without a rider with the boots turned backwards. Reed served at over 90 of those missions in either of those positions. He also served in countless color guard presentations where he was the lead horse. He rode in countless parades and was part of the outreach team and attended countless exhibitions of the Caisson Platoon meeting the public.

Re-Elect aka Reed is back home now at Maggi’s Millstone farm. He must go through two weeks quarantine, separated from the other horses, but soon he’ll be able to be among them. Maggi is hoping to let him “work part time” as an outreach horse for contact with anybody who would like to visit him under her supervision and learn about his illustrious career as a military horse, who retired with a military title, the rank of Sergeant First Class.

Retired Roll Ceremony, Reed with Maggi Romano.