Published online January 4, 2017
In regards to the April 22, 2015, cover article, “Ride Like a Centaur, Win Like a Tiger”:
My father, Edgar “Buddy” Mack Jr. ’31, from an early age was enthralled by horses. In applying for college, when he heard Princeton’s ROTC unit was field artillery with its horse-drawn equipment … that was the college for him!
He joined ROTC as a freshman in 1927 and discovered not only horses but a polo team! And polo became his extracurricular focus for the next four years. Buddy worked hard at learning the game from his Army taskmasters, veterans of the Great War. In fact, that is my father practicing his swing on a wooden horse in the photo on page 27!
The rest of the story: After graduating, Buddy returned home to Cincinnati and joined the Army Reserve because Cincinnati had a remount unit. Then, when reserve officers were called up in September 1940, he was assigned to a quartermaster unit at Fort Thomas, Ky. The Army in 1940 was still purchasing saddles, bridles, and horse feed. The base commander was desperate to find an officer who knew something about horses. My father was his man. His Princeton education came to great use!
Fifteen months later we were at war. He was transferred to the Army Air Corps — no more horses, he thought.
However, in early 1943 Buddy was assigned to central Missouri where a glider-training base was to be built from scratch, turning open land, woods, and farms into an airfield. Not nearly enough bulldozers and heavy equipment were available, so my father and a base C.O. (a World War I cavalry officer) came up with the plan of enlisting local farmers with their mule teams to help clear and grade.
The colonel and Lt. Mack requisitioned remount horses so they could supervise construction from the proper perspective. As a result, the Knobnoster Missouri Army Air Base (Gilder Training Command) was constructed on time (almost). The planes took to the sky, and the farmers and mules returned home. Job well done!