Memorial to Pfc Raymond Manz and T/5 Charles Sutton, Trp A, 42nd Reconnaissance Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Group (Mecz)
It was arguably one of the darkest periods in recent world history. For the second time in barely as many decades, huge armies from around the world had amassed to rend and tear at each other to the point of brushing entire civilizations and cultures to the brink of destruction in the struggle. Europe had been laid to waste, and the life span of Hitler’ s thousand-year Reiche had been reduced to a matter of days. Dulled to the sights, sounds and smells of death and devastation, battle weary troopers longed for home as they continued swapping their lives for plots of pounded earth.
With scarcely a week till the end of the fighting in this theater, two troopers of the Second Cavalry added their names to the growing list of tens of millions of lives lost during WW II. Countless are the stories of sacrifice, yet these troopers are set apart. Their mission so unique, years later Walt Disney would base a movie on it, however with the typical Hollywood disregard for accuracy and a need to omit the horrors of war, their part of the story went untold. Now, over sixty years since the selfless act that earned these two troopers a place in eternity, an unexpected someone wants to thank them.
At the now wooded site of the former village of Rosendorf, Czechoslovakia, on the 28th of April, 2006, sixty-one years to the day since the mission started that cost these two young troopers their lives, the foot-stone for a monument will be laid by Mayor Picka of Bela nad Radbuzou, Gaylord Jerry Toole of the Pilsen Military Car Club and also representing the Society of the 5th Infantry Division, and by other visiting government officials, each in turn tapping the foot-stone with a golden hammer. Flowers will be placed on the foot-stone and the path marked by children and people from the village of Bela nad Radbuzou, where another foot-stone will also be placed this day.
On Sept. 15th, 2006, during the traditional local festival, monuments will be unveiled at these sites to honor the memory of troopers Pfc. Raymond E. Manz and T/5 Owen W. Sutton, both with Troop A, 42nd Rcn Sqdn, 2nd Cav Grp (Mecz).
As part of Task Force Stewart, a hastily assembled task force consisting of Troop A, 42nd Rcn Sqdn, elements of Troop C, and a platoon each of tanks from F Troop and assault guns from E Troop, all under the command of Maj. Robert. P. Andrews and with Capt. Thomas M. Stewart as his assistant, on the 28th of April were given a top-secret mission to break through enemy lines held by German SS troops, fight their way into the restricted Russian zone, and capture and hold the horse breeding farms at Hostau, Czechoslovakia, where among the over 1200 horses gathered there by the German Army were 3oo from the Piber breeding herd of Lipizzan’ s, the lifeblood of one of the purest breeds of horse in the world and the foundation of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, dating back hundreds of years. The horses were to be protected not only from the German SS troops, but also from the advancing Russian Army.
Among some of the other amazing acts that made this mission so unique, is the fact that Capt. Lessing, the German staff veterinarian at the horse farm, had snuck through the lines with two of the white horses to convince the Americans to come rescue them, and he and Capt. Stewart, in a show of faith from the US troops, rode the two white horses secretly back through the SS lines and arranged for the surrender of the town if Capt. Stewart could return with a task force, which he did. After the task force fought it’ s way through the SS troops, it was welcomed by the German garrison at Hostau with music and salutes.
Also among the " captured " bootey were several hundred Allied P.O.W.’ s from England, America, France and Poland. In return, a couple thousand German’ s, Russian’ s fighting for the German’ s, and Czech’ s fighting for the German’ s, were all taken prisoner. The released British and French troops were sent on their way back towards their armies, while the Pole’ s had no where to go so remained with the task force guarding the area around the horse farm. The German’ s, Russian’ s, Czech’ s and Pole’ s were later re-armed with captured weapons and helped the task force repel a counter-attack by the SS troops trying to recapture the area on the 30th of April. Pfc. Manz was later posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award for valor presented by the United States, for his actions this day.
T/5 Owen W. Sutton, service number 346 647 02, was from Kinston, N.C. He was born Dec. 8th, 1916, and was undoubtedly called " Pops " or " Old Man " or the like by his troop-mates during the fight across Europe, before he died in an Army field hospital in Nurnberg, Germany, on May 1st, 1945, at the ripe old age of 28, from wounds received the previous day in defense of the Hostau horse farms.
Pfc. Raymond E. Manz, service number 368 705 34, was born May 16, 1925 in Toledo, Ohio, and later moved with his family to Detroit, Michigan, where he attended Southeastern High School. After graduation, he entered the Army in July 1943 and a year later found himself landing on Utah Beach, Normandy, France. Having survived the hedgerows of Northern France, the sweep across France once the hedgerows had been broken through, racing to join the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium, and fighting across the width and much of the depth of Germany with Owen Sutton and his other troop-mates, Raymond lost his life in Czechoslovakia after already being wounded while destroying a Nazi SS roadblock and while trying to reposition himself for a better field of fire to continue the fight. Ever a teenager, he was just sixteen days shy of his twentieth birthday and seven days short of the end of fighting in Europe. As with almost all Soldiers who die in combat, they do so never knowing the reason or importance of their mission, only that it must be accomplished. Thanks to brave men like Pfc. Manz and T/5 Sutton, that mission was accomplished, and a very beautiful breed of horse was saved from sure destruction. There reward was a temporary plot of ground in Nurenberg, Germany, then another one in St. Avold, France, and finally when their families could afford it and make arrangements, the troopers were laid to rest in their home towns, Owen Sutton by his wife Beulah at Westview Cemetery in Kinston, N.C., and on Jan. 9th, 1949, Raymond Manz was laid to rest at Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio, by his father.
Through the finance and efforts of Mayor Picka and Mr. Toole, the sacrifices of these two 2nd Cavalry troopers have been brought to light and steps are being taken that they will not be forgotten. In the 170 year history of the 2nd Cavalry, it’ s longest mission by far has been to guard the Cold War border of West Germany from East Germany and Czechoslovakia, a mission that spanned five decades and helped to check the further spread of Communism in Europe. Now the iron curtain is gone and there is only one Germany. 2nd Cavalry troopers no longer fear the hordes of Russian tanks streaming through the Eisenstein Pass across the Czechoslovakian border. How ironic that one of the 2nd Cavalry’ s greatest threats from the past would wish to bestow such honors on two of it’ s lost troopers all but forgotten by the rest of the world.