1st Theater Sustainment Command


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1st TSC Spouses Visit Sgt. Blackjack on 45-acre Farm

By Ms. Wendy Arevalo | 1st Theater Sustainment Command | November 15, 2019

SIMPSONVILLE, KY --

Sgt. Blackjack, 1st Theater Sustainment Command’s (TSC) mascot, received a visit from the Soldier Family Readiness Group (SFRG) spouses and Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) leadership Nov. 13.

The group visited Blackjack, a 15-year-old pony mule, at his home on a 45-acre farm on the outskirts of Louisville, where he is cared for by Arvil Dobson and Kathy Krantz.

“This is the first time the SFRG has come out as a group to see Blackjack,” said Theresa Scott, family readiness support assistant, 1st TSC. “He’s iconic,” she added. “He adds a lot of historical value to the unit.”

The Army’s tradition of using mules as mascots dates back to 1899, when an officer at the Philadelphia Quartermaster Depot decided the service needed a mascot to counter the Navy goat.

Throughout history, Army sustainment units used donkeys, mules and horses to carry and deliver supplies, ammunition, equipment and weapons over rough terrain.

“Blackjack is a fitting mascot for the 1st TSC because he symbolizes the history of how logistics was conducted in the past in the military,” said Capt. Mark H. Schneider, HHC commander, 1st TSC. “Having a firm grasp of how logistics worked in the past makes one appreciate how far logistics has come, and where it can go in the future.”

During the visit, SFRG spouses petted, fed Blackjack treats, and asked his caretakers questions about him.

Dobson and Krantz, both retired Army lieutenant colonels, have cared for Blackjack for the last two years and three months. They specialize in the care of retired show horses.

When asked if Blackjack had any unique characteristics, Krantz said, “He’s very particular.” “He’s very observant about things, he notices if things in the barn have moved,” she added.

Sgt. Amir Bullock, information technology specialist, 1st TSC, also accompanied the group on the visit. Bullock serves as Blackjack’s handler during command functions. He helps prep the mascot before events and helps keep him calm.

Bullock, who became the mascot’s handler in July 2019, visits Blackjack about once a month at the farm.

Dobson said the two mesh well together.

“Sgt. Bullock comes down here so that Blackjack gets to know him,” Dobson said. “That way Blackjack is comfortable with him when he has command events.”

For the rest of the SFRG group, the outing was a great opportunity to see Blackjack in his home environment and something they will share with the rest of the families in the unit.

“When I met Blackjack at the change of command ceremony, I knew I wanted to see where he lived,” said Kristen Small, SFRG co-leader and key caller.

She added that she enjoyed meeting Dobson as well.

“He was really informative,” she said of Dobson. “He seemed to really enjoy what he does.”

With a chuckle, she added, “It’s back to his roots of being an Army officer in charge of a sergeant,” referring to Dobson being a retired lieutenant colonel.