Ruben Troyer Biography
I am a civilian employee of the US Army Caisson Platoon. The Caisson Platoon is the last full time equestrian mounted unit in the Department of Defense. It is their mission to serve as a mounted escort to the departed servicemembers who are buried in the Arlington National Cemetery with full honors. It is my full-time job to train the horses that perform those missions.
My life has involved horses from my youngest experiences and earliest memories. I was raised in Holmes County Ohio in an Amish community. I have worked with horses in practical ways since my youth. As an Amish boy, I would use horses for transportation as well as for farming and recreation. In my teenage years, I developed the desire to train horses rather than to simply use horses that had already been trained by someone else. Through reading books, attending a few training clinics, and a lot of trial and error, I managed to get most of the horses trained that I set out to train.
In later years, I would end up leaving the Amish and leaving horses altogether, never thinking that I would ever again do anything professionally that would involve horses. I joined the Army in 2005 and was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard. The Old Guard is responsible for the Memorial Affairs missions for the Army in the Arlington National Cemetery. One of the specialty platoons within the Old Guard is the Caisson Platoon. Due to the extensive
experience I had with horses earlier in my life, I decided to capitalize on what I already knew, and volunteered to serve in the Caisson Platoon.
After the mandatory 10 week course that was required to join the Caisson Platoon, I was assigned to a riding squad that was responsible to perform the the mounted missions that are daily assigned to the Caisson Platoon as well as the maintenance and upkeep of the barn and and the wellfare of the numerous horses we had. Soon, because I had prior experience training horses, I was assigned to help the civilian horse trainer to train the new horses that came to the platoon. I thrived in that position and enjoyed the privilege of being allowed to take horses that are otherwise unmanageable, and train them to perform the Caisson Platoon’s mounted missions in the Arlington National Cemetery.
Since my Military Occupational Specialty was Infantry, I felt that it was my duty to serve overseas as most of my other infantry brethern had done during the time when we had wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. As such, I decided to re-enlist to extend my service in the Army in order to volunteer to serve with the 82nd Airborne, a unit that was deploying to Iraq soon. After serving in the Baghdad and Salman Pak regions of Iraq for a year, I returned to the states to continue the mandatory training period after deployment.
Soon after returning from Iraq, I was once again put on orders back to the Old Guard. Again I was tasked with training the horses and the soldiers that were assigned to the Caisson Platoon.
During this time with Caisson, I was also helping with a therapeutic riding program that helped wounded warriors recover from trauma incurred from service overseas. I was amazed at how the activities and interaction with the horses stimulated and reignited senses and confidence that many of these soldiers had thought they lost a long time ago. The before and after photos were amazing.
As comes with every term of enlistment with the US Army, mine was drawing to a close. I had to decide whether to extend my time in the army by re-enlisting or to get out of the Army and return to a civilian job. Since I had decided to get out of the army, the Old Guard offered me terms of employment as a civilian to keep training their horses for them since the other civilian no longer worked for them. I had planned to get out of the army and pursue a different career path but since I couldn’t be certain that my other career plans would come through, I opted to accept the offer. I have been working for Caisson as a civilian for over five years now and I am continuing my service in uniform with the Virginia Army National Guard.