By 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment, Public Affairs Office
Hostoun, Czech Republic (May, 1, 2009) — The streets of Hostoun in the Czech Republic were transformed into something from a World War II movie Friday. Past and present combined as vintage military vehicles, courtesy of the Military Car Club of Pilzen and Stryker vehicles from the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment (2SCR) lined the streets. Residents, dressed in their best WWII American military uniforms gathered alongside troopers from Dog Company, 2nd Squadron, 2SCR to celebrate the 64th Anniversary of Operation Cowboy.
As WWII drew to an end, Patton’s Third Army and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment undertook what was to be, a historic rescue mission that liberated 400 Prisoners of War and more than 670 horses. Among the horses rescued were the world famous Lipizzaner. The Lipizzaner breeding mares were taken from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and were being held in Hostoun. Fearing the horses would fall into the hands of the Soviet Army, a small task force was formed from the 42nd Squadron to drive the horses via an old-west style cattle drive from Hostau to Bela nad Radbuzou which was under Allied control. The mission was deemed Operation Cowboy. During this operation, Pfc. Raymond Manz and Tech 5 Owen Sutton, both of Alpha Troop, 42nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, were killed by German SS forces while transporting the horses.
In remembrance of these men, and to celebrate the liberation of their people by American forces, a pilgrimage is made along the historic route taken by those Soldiers so long ago.
The trip began with the unveiling of a memorial plaque in the town of Hostau.
“As Commander of Dog Company,” said Capt. Scott Brandt, “I feel a special bond to this location and what happened here.”
“Dog Company traces its roots back to Troop Alpha in WWII,” he explained.
“We are also here to pay tribute to Sgt. Sutton and PFC. Manz,” he continued. “Many of the Soldiers of Dog Company are combat veterans.”
“We understand the ultimate sacrifice they made to free this great nation,” Bryant said.
After the unveiling of the plaque and the laying of flowers at the memorial in Houstau, the motorcade starts out on its journey. The convoy stops at a small stone memorial in the woods near the town of Rusov which was the site of the SS checkpoint where Sutton and Manz were killed. The stone structure was dedicated to the memory of both men. The delegation stopped to pay their respects to the memory of Manz and Sutton and lay flowers in their honor.
“It was Soldiers from this squadron that rescued the Allied prisoners,” said Lt. Col. Omar Jones, the Commander of 2nd Squadron, 2SCR. “It is truly an honor to be here to pay tribute to these brave men whose sacrifice helped rescue the Lippanzaners and helped the Czech people regain their freedom.”
“When I think of Sgt. Sutton and Sgt. Manz,” Jones said. “I think of two young men far from their homes at the end of many months and years of war.”
“They were there for each other, their comrades,” he continued, “and sacrificed to earn freedom for over 150 prisoners.”
“They also ensured the legacy and culture of the Lipizzaner horses was not lost to the world.”
The motorcade then proceeded into Bela nad Radbuzou where the trip concluded at a statue dedicated to the memory of Operation Cowboy and the sacrifice of Sutton and Manz. During the ceremony the Mayor of Bela nad Radbuzou was presented with a plaque from the Regiment by the 75th Colonel of the Regiment, Col. James R. Blackburn.