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Ft. Huachuca's proud past and bright future

Posted at 5:32 PM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 12:10:37-04
SIERRA VISTA, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - Fort Huachuca has a past that reaches deep into the history of the West---and a future rushing forward to some of the latest military technology.
The Post dates back to cavalry on horseback. The Army established an outpost to protect settlers from Native American tribes and keep peace in Southern Arizona.
Some of the natural qualities that brought Fort Huachuca to what is now Sierra Vista should keep it an important part of the Army's future.
B Troop, 4th US Cavalry is equipped with the horses, uniforms and equipment the Army depended on in the 1880s.  The troop represents Fort Huachuca as they ride through a landscape that looks very like the land the horse soldiers they honor today rode through about 140 years ago.
A small Army cavalry unit stopped here. They found a stream, grass for their horses, shade and a landscape that let them see threats coming from a distance. They decided this was a place they could build on.  The spot was where Fort Huachuca began.
Troopers learn the horsemanship Captain Samuel Whitside and his men knew as they picked the site of the modern Fort Huachuca, and worked to protect settlers building their new homes in the West.
Trooper Peter Criscuolo is an Army civilian worker who rides with the Troop.  He loves bringing the history alive.
"I've been doing this for 18 years ....It's never lost its allure for me but I'm sure when those guys did this day to day every day all day long it just really wore them out."
Fort Huachuca was active in the Indian Wars of the 1880s.  African American Soldiers, who came to be known as the Buffalo Soldiers fought in those wars but mostly other places. Fort Huachuca’s Buffalo Soldiers became a big part of the post in the years before World War One.
Post historian Paul Pipik says there are many stories behind the name.  The most common is that Indians thought the texture of the black soldiers’ hair was like the curly fur on a buffalo. But years went by before the soldiers embraced the name.
Pipik says, "There are many, many, many diaries and letters that were written by the members of the original regiments and that term just does not appear until right before World War One."
He says about 1910 the Buffalo began to appear on crests and shoulder patches and became a proud part of the black soldiers’ heritage as they fought their way to distinguished records in World Wars One and Two.
After World War Two the post closed for a time, then revived as the Korean War broke out.  Since then it has thrived as a place for training and testing.  
The quality of the land that attracted the Cavalry so long ago has a special value for modern warfare.  The terrain helps shut out stray electronic signals.  That makes parts of Fort Huachuca ideal for testing military electronics.
Pipik says,”The East Coast had become so noisy, so electronically noisy the Bowl here presented an ideal location for that type of work as well."
So the post that treasures its past can be proud as it rides to the future.