Death of Herbert Hoover – October 20, 1964

On October 20, 1964, former President Herbert Hoover died in New York City at the age of ninety. A funeral would be held at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City on October 22, and the following day his remains would be transported by train to Washington, D.C. His body would lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda until the morning of October 25. The State Funeral would end with President Hoover’s body being transported by airplane from Washington National Airport to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. From Cedar Rapids, a procession would carry him to his final resting place in West Branch, Iowa, his childhood home and location of the Hoover Presidential Library.

Hoover’s State Funeral would be pared down from other State Funerals, as Hoover was a Quaker and for that reason, there was not a 21-gun salute performed. Hoover’s legacy immediately after leaving office was viewed as a failure, having been president during the start of the Great Depression. Later in life Hoover rehabilitated his image, becoming a popular personality. Hoover served in special commissions under Republican and Democratic presidents. His popularity was such that an estimated 100,000 people lined the route of his funeral procession from Cedar Rapids to West Branch, while 75,000 attended the burial in West Branch.

While the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment took the lead for events in Washington, D.C., an Old Guard veteran served as lead in the Iowa segments. Captain Neale Cosby was assigned to the ROTC program at the University of Iowa. Previously, CPT Cosby served as Platoon Leader of Tomb Guard Platoon, Honor Guard Company. At the request of the Military District of Washington, CPT Cosby served as Control Officer and escorted Hoover’s body from Cedar Falls to West Branch, along with the minister, Dr. D. Elton Trueblood.

The State Funeral for President Hoover was the third State Funeral to take place in the span of one year. President Kennedy had been killed in November 1963 and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur had died in April 1964. Despite the shock of the President Kennedy’s death, units had been drilling previously, anticipating the death of Hoover. Hoover even joked about his age and health, having been given prime speaking times at three consecutive Republican Presidential Conventions. Each time party officials thought it would be his last convention. Hoover joked in 1960 that, “Apparently, my last three good-byes didn’t take.” Hoover was alive at the time of the 1964 Republican Convention, but did not appear due to health concerns.

Special thanks to Neale Cosby for additional information and photos, and to Richard Azzaro for his insights.

Photos of the Washington, D.C. elements of the Hoover State Funeral:

Photos of the Iowa elements of the Hoover State Funeral (courtesy Neale Cosby):

Donation of Conversano Beja – May 19, 1964

On May 19, 1964, the Austrian government donated one of their prized Lipizzaner stallions to the Caisson Platoon. Conversano Beja was donated during an event held at Madison Square Garden, as a thank you to the U.S. Army. Near the end of World War II, General Patton placed the horses and the Spanish Riding School under his protection. The Conversano bloodline can be traced back to 1767. The Pentagram News article, transcribed below, gives details about the donation and ceremony. See photos of the ceremony here:

Old Guard Gets Lipizzaner Stallion
Pentagram News – May 21, 1964

One of the astonishing Lipizzaner horses from Vienna’s Spanish School of Riding is going to the caisson section of the Army’s Old Guard.

“Conversano [B]eja” a white stallion of the globe-traveling troupe, was to be given to the Army Tuesday during a performance of the Austrian horses in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The Austrian government is present the horse to the U.S. Army in appreciation for the protection afforded the world famous riding school at the close of World War II.

Early in 1945, Col. Aloris Podhajsky, still director of the riding school, moved the horses to the upper Austrian village of St. Martin to protect them from bombing in Vienna.

Shortly afterwards, Gen. George S. Patton, himself, like Col. Podhajsky, a former Olympic horseman, made the horses wards of the U.S. Army until they could be returned to a new Austria.

The stallion probably will arrive at Ft. Myer sometime this week and will be used in full honor funerals in Arlington National Cemetery. It will be stabled at the caisson section.

Capt. Homer G. Gay, 3d Infantry ceremonies officer, said tentative plans call for the animal to be used in funerals as the mount for the chief of the unit’s white-horse section.

As dazzling show horses, the stallions do formation walking, trot sideways and dance and prance to the rhythm of old Viennese melodies. They climax their show with a thrilling horse ballet.

The horses — descendants of Spanish-bred animals trained for 400 years at the Spanish Riding School — arrived in the U.S. March 27 for their first extended American tour. They showed in the Washington area to capacity crowds in April.

Lt. Gen. Robert W. Porter Jr., commanding general of the 1st Army, was scheduled to accept the horse on behalf of the Army Chief of Staff.

The Austrian Secretary of Commerce, Dr. Fritz Boch, and Dr. Wilfried Platzer, the Austrian Ambassador to the United States, were slated to make the presentation at the Lippizzaner’s opening-night performance at the [end of article]