The History of Squadron A-the "New York Hussars"
Squadron A originated, in 1884 out of a group of 18 wealthy, young gentlemen with great interest in equestrian sport who formed themselves into first as a political club and then as an exclusive troop cavalry group called the "New York Hussars". They adopted fancy blue uniforms and headgear for ceremonial purposes that mimicked Eurasian fashions dating back to the Napoleonic and Crimean Wars. In effort to become more professional and militarized, they extended membership to Captain Charles F. Roe, twenty-year veteran of the US Army Cavalry, who inspired its membership with the cavalry spirit and military discipline. His efforts were successful to the point that in 1889 fifty-three men were mustered into the New York State National Guard (NGSNY) as Squadron A, becoming the first cavalry arm of the Guard of the Empire State. Squadron A was officially founded.
Squadron A was often called out from its Madison Avenue Armory, which occupied an entire city block between 94th and 95th Streets, to escort presidents, governors, and foreign dignitaries. The Squadron was known for its fine riding skills and elegant uniforms, which it showed off in parades at the National Horse Show.
They earned their spurs as soldiers as well. Volunteer Squadron A troopers went to Puerto Rico in 1898 to serve in the Spanish American War, and in 1916 the entire Squadron was called into federal service to patrol the Mexican Border and to chase the bandit, Pancho Villa.
During World War I, 796 Squadron A members served, and 609 became commissioned officers. As part of the 105th Machine Gun Battalion, the Squadron played an important role in the smashing of the Hindenburg Line. Squadron A brought home three Congressional Medals of Honor, 17 Legion of Honor awards and 24 Crois de Guerre.
In January, 1941, some 11 months before Pearl Harbor, the Squadron was federalized as the 101st Cavalry with two troops becoming mechanized and one remaining horse. During World War II,its members became part of the crack 101st Cavalry Group, code named "Wingfoot", which fought gallantly in Germany and Austria. Members of the Squadron earned 2 Congressional Medals of Honor, 5 French Legion of Honor Awards, 5 Order of the British Empire, 10 Distinguished Flying Crosses and many other honors including a Presidential Unit Citation.
In peacetime both between the Wars and directly following, the Squadron was the focus of a very active social life. Aside from official ceremonial duties, there was indoor polo in the Armory every Saturday night followed by a black tie-dance and many Sunday afternoon tea dances.
Sadly the 94th Street Armory came down in 1965, but its facade, with the Squadron motto BOUTEZ EN AVANT (Charge!) is still intact. Squadron A memorabilia is respectfully maintained in a museum at the Staten Island armory of the 101st Cavalry (Tank), NYARNG, the worthy successor unit to the Squadron. The 101st was one of the first military units to respond to the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001 aiding both citizens and police and have been mobilized in support of the Global War on Terror and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Spirit and traditions are further maintained by the Squadron A Association, housed in the Women's National Republican building on 51st Street in Manhattan. Colonel Robert L. McClean, USAR (ret.) is president of the Association which boasts more than 700 members and is a testimony to the enduring cavalry esprit de corps of the Squadron. The Squadron A Association not only keeps alive its heritage but also has a characteristically active social agenda with a day at the Belmont Racetrack, a Memorial Service with reception, and a Christmas cocktail party. Additional events have included a Cavalry ball, visits aboard an aircraft carrier during Armed Forces Week, West Point football outings, and polo and shooting parties.
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