May 6, 2023, marks the 149th anniversary of the first Kentucky Derby race! To kick off this first race of the horse-racing season, I thought it would be interesting to throw a fun fact about one of Arkansas’s most famous military residents.
West Point Military Academy has been training US Army cadets since 1802. Military activities here used to include calvary training prior to the military calvary being mechanized. However, as the cavalry aged out of the military, the pastime of riding became a showmanship team using Thoroughbreds.
Cadets have the option of participating in the equestrian team which builds leadership, teamwork, and discipline. This equestrian team participates in the local West Point Horse show as well as shows regionally and nationally depending on the strength of the equestrian team.
Arkansas’s very own John Paul McConnell was a part of this equestrian team while he was attending West Point in 1932.
As a part of this team, he was able to participate in the West Point Show arena winning two ribbons in the process!
The Arkansas Air and Military Museum has these ribbons in its collection They were locally made and awarded at the West Point Horse Show of 1932
These are prime pieces of the McConnell collection as they tell a piece of the West Point career of one of Arkansas’s four-star generals.
Make sure to come down and see McConnell’s military collection which is on permanent display in the museum’s Display Building!