US Veteran Hero Now Residing in Columbia Falls

Photo: Brenda Gove meeting Peter from Open House on St. Patrick's Day at Dun Dreamin Farm.

By Laurie Pike

 We are blessed to have a new Veteran hero living here is Washington County thanks to Morrill and Karen Worchester, owners of Worchester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine.  Morrill Worchester is the Founder of Wreaths Across America, and his wife Karen is the Executive Director of the non-profit organization.   Worchester Wreath began placing wreath arrangements on graves at Arlington Cemetery in 1992 as a way to honor our nation’s heroes, and the family formed Wreaths Across America as a non-profit organization in 2007.  The wreath-laying takes place the second and third Saturday of December each year.  The mission of this organization is to Remember, Honor, and Teach.  (Remember our Fallen U.S. Veterans; Honor those who serve; and Teach your children the value of freedom).

March 14, 2017 was Adoption Day for Karen Worchester and retired member of U.S. Army Caisson Platoon Horse, Peter of The Old Guard Americas Regiment. Peter now resides at Dun Dreamin Farm in Columbia Falls, Maine.  An open house was held at Dun Dreamin Farm in Columbia Falls on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2017 to welcome this newly retired hero to our community.  Peter now has a new mission with Wreaths Across America to help us all Remember, Honor, and Teach.  

Peter is a sixteen year veteran, and he had a fourteen year Caisson Platoon career at Arlington National Cemetery.  He started his career as a wheel horse for two years before he was promoted to swing horse for eight to ten years, and was then promoted to Section Horse for the White team.  Peter performed more than 6,000 funerals during his career.  The Caisson Platoon performs 1,700 funerals per year.  After serving fourteen years at Arlington Cemetery, he spent two years with the Army performing the Twilight Tattoo, musical history ceremony.  Peter is one of two horses to receive the Army Achievement Award from the Secretary of the Army.  Peter was notably the Flag Horse for the second inauguration ceremony for President Obama.  

The Caisson Platoon, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment is the last full time equestrian mounted unit in the Department of Defense.  The Caisson Platoon primary mission is to serve as mounted escort to the Nation’s departed or fallen heroes.  The unit of six horses, three carrying an infantry rider, pulls a flag draped casket on a black artillery caisson carrying a fallen soldier on his last ride to Arlington Cemetery to his final resting place among the honored dead.  

Caisson horses are a draft mix horse that is predominately a Percheron breed.  The Caisson Horses of the Old Guard participate in all Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps Full Honors Funerals performed in Arlington Cemetery.  Five Days a week the Caisson Horse’s day begins with a 4:00 am feeding; followed by the first shower of the day; outfitting with a harness fashioned after the 1916 harness used with the Field Artillery Teams of WWI; hitching to the carriage; 8:00 am mission order announced; and departure to Arlington Cemetery for service of eight full military honor funerals.  After performing these funeral ceremonies with solemn dignity, the horses and riders return to the stable where the horses are unhitched; the tack cleaned; second showers of the day completed; and horses are fed and watered and stalled to rest for the next day. 

Caisson horses serve on average for over a decade, and a home is selected for a retiring Caisson Horse through the Caisson Horse Adoption Program.  When a Caisson Horse is identified for adoption, the details are published to the website, and interested candidates have 21 days to file an application.  After 21 days, a board of The Old Guard is convened to match each horse to an applicant.  Each applicant will be notified of the board’s decision and arrangements are made to transfer the horse to his new retirement home.  Karen Worchester is the lucky applicant chosen to adopt Peter.  This was not her first attempt to adopt a Caisson Horse, but her vigilance has paid off, successfully bringing a new hero to our community to further the Wreath’s Across America’s mission to Remember, Honor, and Teach.