Veteran’s Day Tribute: “12 Strong” America’s Horse Soldiers

“Each and every Veteran’s Day we attempt to highlight equine bravery that has helped to keep this country free and with that said, we usually land on telling the story of Sgt. Reckless, a little mare that attained the rank of Sgt. in the Marine Corp. during the Korean war.  But there have been so many other horses who have served bravely and some not all that long ago.  Which brings us to the upcoming release of the movie “12 STRONG” the unclassified true story of America’s first soldiers to enter Afghanistan after 9/11 and they did it on horseback.

We are not hyping a movie but instead applauding the telling of an important tale where horses were one of the most important components of battling for America’s freedom and sovereignty.

To all my fellow veterans, (both 2 and 4 legged) thank you for your sacrifice, your service and the pledge that you made to your commander-in-chief, country and God.  You are the backbone of our freedom and independence while being true role models for generations to come.  For you I stand with pride and tears in my eyes during the playing of the National Anthem.  May God bless you all.” ~ R.T.

Chris Hemsworth (“Thor,” “The Avengers” films) and Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road,” “Nocturnal Animals”) star in “12 Strong,” a powerful new war drama from Alcon Entertainment, Black Label Media and Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Based on the best-selling book Horse Soldiers, it is story of heroism based on true events that unfolded a world away in the aftermath of 9/11.

Award-winning director Nicolai Fuglsig directed the film, which is produced by legendary producer Jerry Bruckheimer (the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, “Black Hawk Down”), together with Molly Smith, Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill (“La La Land,” “Sicario”) under their Black Label Media banner. Oscar winner Ted Tally (“The Silence of the Lambs”) and Peter Craig (“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Parts 1 & 2”) wrote the screenplay, based on the acclaimed book by best-selling author Doug Stanton. The executive producers are Oscar nominees and Alcon principals Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson (“The Blind Side”), together with Chad Oman, Mike Stenson, Ellen H. Schwartz, Garrett Grant, Yale Badik, Val Hill and Doug Stanton.

“12 Strong” is set in the harrowing days following 9/11 when a U.S. Special Forces team, led by their new Captain, Mitch Nelson (Hemsworth), is chosen to be the first U.S. troops sent into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission. There, in the rugged mountains, they must convince Northern Alliance General Dostum (Navid Negahban) to join forces with them to fight their common adversary: the Taliban and their Al Qaeda allies. In addition to overcoming mutual distrust and a vast cultural divide, the Americans—accustomed to state-of-the-art warfare—must adopt the rudimentary tactics of the Afghan horse soldiers. But despite their uneasy bond, the new allies face overwhelming odds: outnumbered and outgunned by a ruthless enemy that does not take prisoners.

Fell Good Sunday: FL Patriot Rides Again for 9-11 after Beloved Horse’s Death

“With the horrendously sick news that we have received this week it is difficult to clear one’s head and look around so as to touch what is real and important to all of us, and today that would be the 15 year anniversary of the 9/11 attack against our country; an event we should never forget or whitewash as some politicians and government leaders would like us to do. 

I will not expound or comment as like religion, this topic and where you were and how it affected you is very personal, but try to wash out your mind with what one man does in an effort to remain sane and respectful.  Remember those who were lost.” ~ R.T.

by Catlin Doornbos as published in the Orlando Sentinel

“I don’t know what it means to them, but it means a heck of a lot to me…”

Click image to view photo gallery and video

Click image to view photo gallery and video

Brent Bachand said life has been “empty” since his horse Banjo was struck down by lightning just before Independence Day this year.

The 59-year-old Clermont man rode Banjo with an American flag in hand to commemorate in nearly every patriotic holiday. He never missed a Sept. 11 anniversary riding Banjo down State Highway 50 near the Florida Turnpike to spread love of country since the terrorist attacks in 2001.

While it’s hard getting back in the saddle with his grief, Bachand has been determined to prepare another rescue horse, Roscoe, to take on Banjo’s patriotic duty for 9-11.

“You don’t stop because [Banjo died,]” Bachand said. “For me, it’s not even a choice; I was raised to be this way. I’m patriotic because it’s in my blood.”

With steady patience, the self-proclaimed “horse teacher” has been guiding the formerly abused horse to accept his new role of standing statuesque while Bachand waves the stars and stripes above his head.

“It’s not as easy as one may think,” Bachand said. “Try walking a dog down the side of Highway 50, then think about riding a horse the same way.”

He and Roscoe, both a little nervous, took a practice ride Friday. As commuters drove past, their reactions were moving. Veterans saluted from car windows and children craned their necks from passenger seats, while others — including a police officer — stopped to take pictures with the pair.

“That guy there that gave a salute, the people in that car from New York City,” Bachand said. “I don’t know what it means to them, but it means a heck of a lot to me.”

Bachand said the endeavor would be dangerous for an untrained horse and rider, as the bustle of cars flashing and honking by can spook an animal.

“People honk their horns out of respect for the flag, but they don’t even think about how that affects a horse,” Bachand said.

Regardless of the danger, the U.S. Army veteran is committed to honor the country and remind passersby of those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. He previously rode Banjo with the flag after the June 12 shooting at the Pulse nightclub.

“If you don’t have a terrorist attack, no one really gives two hoots about patriotism,” Bachand said. “I try to get out and just let people see the flag.”

Bachand said he was discouraged that he didn’t see more American flags displayed after the Pulse shooting. He said he worries the country is more divided now and wishes the flag would unite citizens.

“I’m not the patriot who was there after 9-11 for two weeks; I’m the patriot who has been here for 15 years,” Bachand said. “What I hope is what people look and see me with the flag, they think about this country and what this really means.”

Bachand said he and Roscoe will be riding with the flag Sunday from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. along Highway 50 near Clermont for those wanting to see the spectacle.

“I hope when they see this, they just take the moment to think about 9-11 — all the carnage that went on — and about us being Americans,” Bachand said.

Click link for video and photo gallery:

9/11: We Will NEVER Forget

Commentary by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder Wild Horse Freedom Federation

“Etched into our beleaguered memory is the exact moment in time and the location of the space we were occupying when first we heard that innocent American women, children and men were under attack and dying on the very soil that we once considered to be so safe, the United States of America.  On that horrible and tragic day a band of religious crazed zealots changed the way that every single American viewed their family, their country and the world.  We sought peace and solace, that day, and we found it in the pasture amongst our horses where they patiently held still while we clung to their necks and cried in despair.  We changed that day, we all did and because of that equine tie my eyes cannot help but leak each and every time I view the Clydesdales in that one singular commercial produced by Budweiser “Respect”.  It’s not about the beer, it’s not about commercializing an American tragedy, but instead it is about the horses.  Let’s be kind to each other and our equine companions, this day, as we remember those who perished 12 long years ago…a moment of silence…Keep the Faith” ~ R.T.

Information and verification of this commercial can be found at