Across from the Custer House area, and on the perimeter of the Cavalry Parade Field, stands the "Old Trooper Monument." This statue was erected and dedicated in January 1961 as a tribute to the United States Cavalry. It is modeled after the drawing "Old Bill," the Cavalry Soldier drawn by famous western artist, Frederic Remington in 1898. The statue is that of a life-size horse and rider.
At the foot of the Old Bill statue is the grave of "Chief." He was the last Cavalry horse mount to be registered to the U.S. Government and carried on Army rolls. The bay gelding was foaled in 1932 and entered the Cavalry eight years later at Fort Robinson, NE. He was originally purchased from L.A. Parker of Scottsbluff, NE for $183. He came to Fort Riley on April 3, 1941 and served with the 9th and 10th Cavalry units. In 1942 Chief was transferred to the Cavalry School and was retired in 1949. He died on May 24, 1968, a lingering symbol of the past. A military funeral with full honors was held, attended by the Commanding General of the U.S. Army. He is interned upright in a special casket constructed by Fort Riley's engineers that allowed him to be buried in this manner. Chief will always be a reminder of the days of boots and saddles, Custer and the 7th Cavalry, and the great days of opening the American West.
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