FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. (KGUN) — The B Troop 4th U.S. Cavalry Regiment (Memorial) has been embodying the spirit of southern Arizona since 1973.
The troop honors the history and traditions of cavalry units in the west.
For the last 20 years, Chris Zimmerman has been part of the glue that keeps B Troop going on Fort Huachuca. He is the program coordinator for the troop and will be retiring Friday-- May 28, 2021.
“This place is really the epicenter of old west Arizona history,” said Zimmerman when talking about Fort Huachuca.
Zimmerman was formerly in the Air Force for 21 years.
“I came here for my final assignment on active duty and kind of discovered this by accident,” he told KGUN9.
Here’s what kept him in for the next 20 years:
“Riding back from the arena through the oak trees at night was kind of an epiphany for me and I realized that this is what I really wanted to do,” he said while reflecting on the memorable moment.
He says B Troop has been around since 1973.
“And we’re keeping the Army history and heritage alive,” he added.
It’s a unit that has no military authority and relies on volunteers to fill its ranks.
Peter Criscuolo is the B troop 1st Sergeant.
“There’s no other military unit like it in the army. We do ceremonies here on post, but we also do rodeos, parades, educational events and when we show up at an event dressed as 1886 cavalry men it gives people an opportunity to reflect and maybe appreciate some of that history, some of the heritage, some of the struggle that is still creating Arizona,” Criscuolo told KGUN9.
He’s been a part of B Troop for 23 years and says ever since Chris came along, things have changed for the better.
“There were many times where I had questions about whether we had a future,” said Criscuolo.
Budget, member recruitment and member retention were challenges for a while but that changed when Zimmerman joined the team.
“Chris has been the person that has kept B Troop going for probably the last two decades,” added Criscuolo.
Before horses were housed in old stalls with limited shade. Now, the horses live in a new 18 stall barn.
However, these aren’t the only changes B Troop has undergone over the last 20 years.
Martina Peters was one of the first ladies on B Troop.
“Back then it was an all man’s troop as it is historically correct. Over the years I weaseled my way, with lots of hard work, into being a Trooper. So right now I am a Lady by day and a Trooper on demand,” she told KGUN9.
Zimmerman says while there are dangers involved in riding horses, all troopers go through a three month training and are prepared.
“This is our practice arena. We start them out here teaching them the basics of how to ride a horse. And then we teach them how to be cavalry men,” he added.
John Walton is one of their most recent grads, coming into Fort Huachuca as a Marine.
“Where else can you go with zero horse experience, and just get trained up to ride pretty much any horse. Know all the history of B-Troop--get all that education for free?” he said.
B Troop has also competed in the National Cavalry Competition, and grown into a family. A family that will miss Zimmerman when he’s gone.
“Definitely a great instructor. Great program manager, and he’s just an all around great person,” Walton told KGUN9.
“He put a lot of effort and hard work into making this presentable as we are now,” said Peters.
“Chris is well known here. He has established a reputation on Fort Huachuca and respected and trusted, and that’s something you have to earn,” added Criscuolo.
It is safe to say he is going to retire walking away with what means most to him.
“The temptation to come back and interfere with what they are doing will be strong, but I will have...oh...just a lifetime of memories,” Zimmerman told KGUN9.