In 1976, Black Jack celebrated his 29th birthday with style, with Secretary of the Army Martin Hoffman (1975-77) in attendance. Black Jack enjoyed his usual butter pecan cake, prepared by event host Nancy Schado. Many attendees brought treats for the famous horse, in the way of carrots, sugar cubes and apples. Black Jack’s 29th birthday would be his last, as old age was catching up with the spirited horse. He would pass away just two weeks later.
This week will mark the 40th anniversary of the passing of Black Jack, the riderless horse from President Kennedy’s State Funeral. Each day this week will feature an items and history related to Black Jack’s service in the Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).
Today is a letter sent by President Nixon in honor of Black Jack’s birthday in 1972. The letter is addressed to Mrs. Nancy Schado, Black Jack’s biggest fan and supporter, who threw a birthday celebration for Black Jack each year.
“Black Jack” was the last of the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps issued horses, and the last to be branded with the Army’s “US” (left shoulder) and his serial number “2V56” (left side of his neck). “Black Jack” became well known as the caparisoned horse during the State Funeral for President John F. Kennedy, with reversed boots symbolizing a fallen warrior or leader.
He was foaled January 19, 1947 at Fort Reno, OK. and came to Fort Myer on November 22, 1952. He was named after General of the Armies General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing.
He not only took part in President Kennedy’s funeral, but the funerals of Herbert Hoover, Douglas MacArthur, Lyndon Johnson and thousands more in Arlington National Cemetery.
“Black Jack” ended his military career on June 1, 1973, after which he grazed and exercised at the Fort Myer stables. “Black Jack” died on February 6, 1976, at Fort Myer. He is buried at the corner of Summerall Field, the post parade ground, near the post headquarters.