I admit that things were not shaping up very well for the ceremony at first. The rehearsal did not go well primarily because no one showed up except my counterpart in the Plans Division. The Troop commander forgot about it...said something about soup sandwiches...and the Colonel, who was looking out her office window, did not see anybody on the parade field and decided not to come. It was probably just as well. The two of us who showed up walked the field to see if it was safe for a cavalry charge and then we went and found a dirt slinger to fill in all the holes. There is nothing worse than hitting a hole on horseback while at the gallop. A very ugly scene. It was also at this point that my Plans buddy revealed to me that there would be no bugler for the ceremony because he was having some minor problem with a heart or something. He then handed me a CD with the appropriate bugle noises on it. Great. So then I head back to the stables feeling sorry for myself and starting to notice big thunderstorm clouds building up over the Huachuca Mountains. While I'm nervously watching these clouds and getting everything ready for the ceremony, one of the artillery guys from our howitzer detail shows up. This cheers me up a little because I was worried about them making it. The howitzer team was tasked to fire the cannon during the cavalry charge to add drama and noise (and it makes the horses go faster). Turns out I had good reason to be worried. The artillery guy tells me the artillery sergeant won't be making it as his sister died over the weekend in Minnesota. So then we decided to wait and see if the other artillery guy shows up so they can load the cannon. Well, he doesn't so I cancel the cannon thing. No problem though cause everyone else shows up and are resolved to do this thing regardless of what the weather is doing. Besides that we have so much press coverage arranged for this event that I'd be hunted down and killed if I didn't produce. There were two TV news stations from Tucson covering the ceremony, CBS and ABC, and of course the local newspapers. We had also heard that the Fort Huachuca Commanding General, Major General Custer (I kid you not) would be there. Well, out on the parade field I'm making last minute changes and coordinating stuff when the troopers show up on horseback. After discussing where to position the horses and such I send them away with our photographer, Ty Holland, to have some "hero pictures" taken. While I'm reviewing the script (because I'm narrating this thing) I'm realizing I can't read it very well because there are rain drops falling all over the script. Dang rain clouds snuck up on me. Oh well, we gotta press becaue the General just showed up and it's show time. Surprisingly, the whole thing goes off perfectly. The horses are charged, inspiring words are spoken, and spurs are handed out without incident. Afterwards, I head back to the stables to fire up the barbecue for the real celebration while the guys ride back and tend to their mounts. As I'm burning some burgers and dogs the guys are putting their horses out to pasture when I hear another commotion. My least favorite word is being thrown around by excited troopers and that word is "snake!" So I run out into the pasture among all the horses and the guys point out a rattlesnake slithering around between the horses. Having treated several horses for snake bite in the past, I was in no mood for this, so, yelling for the appopriate tools I "humanely relocate" the snake. This done I notice a pillar of smoke rising from the barbecue grill and hustle back to my "grill sergeant" duties in time to save the food. The barbecue goes off great and the newsmedia in the form of Teresa Jun from KOLD Tucson even showed up to interview the family members (fortunately she was not there for the snake incident). She put together a really nice piece on the ceremony which shows the awesome cavalry charge the new troopers put on.
Likewise, I was pleased by the article that appeared on the front page of the Sierra Vista Herald as well.
So despite all the headaches and stress associated with this kind of thing, it all turned out well. Probably the best press coverage we have ever had.