LTC John B. (Buchanan) Stockton – Bullwhip Six

Posted on October 21, 2016


I will not waste anyone’s time by trying to rewrite articles I find about this Great Innovator/Soldier.  You can put “Col John B. Stockton” into your search engine and find many great articles about this man. All I intend to do is post his epitaph/obituary or whatever you would like to call it and post any comments from the Troopers who Served under him or along side of him. Anyone who knows anything about the 1st Cavalry Division Air Mobile (AM) knows what a great Soldier and innovator of the Air Cavalry he was. LTC John B. Stockton, Bullwhip 6, is the reason that the 1st Cavalry Division yet today still dons the Stetson as head-gear.

So please anyone who served under LTC John B. Stockton in the 3/17 Cav, the 11th Air Cav or the 1/9th Cav, please send me your comments about this great man and I will post them on here.

John B. Stockton Jun 1943
1943 Class Crest
Cullum No. 13746 • Aug 07, 1997 • Died in Montreal, Canada
Cremated and ashes scattered at sea.
View Memorial Gift Donors

“I am ready if you are.” With these words, a once daring, heroic, and legendary commander left his friends and loved ones on 7 Aug 1997. No words describe the loss of the ones he left behind, but COL John Buchanan Stockton, Class of Jun ’43, was ready.

For the first time and after 32 years, Bullwhip Six restored the image of the 1/9th Air Cav Squadron by formally denying false publications and recounting the events of the November 1965 “la Drang River Valley” that led to his unjust relief from command and the subsequent temporary grounding of the famous 1/9th Air Cav Squadron (published Jul 97, The Bullwhip Squadron News).

For the first time, he recorded the stories in a yet-to-be-published memoir of his military years. As someone “literally born” in the Army, like his father and grandfather, both career military officers, recording military events related to air cavalry operations was critical to what he stood for—honor, duty, and service to his country.

For the first time, he allowed interviews for a BBC TV program called “Decisive Weapons,” in which he recounted the story of the birth of the Air Cav.

For the first time, he began to realize how very much he was loved, honored, and revered by the surviving veterans of the “Bullwhip Squadron” formed on 1 Oct 1995 by GEN David Allen with concurrence of CSM Kennedy. Here is why. On 1 Jul 1964, then LTC Stockton assumed command of the 3/17th Cavalry, later redesignated the 1/9th Cavalry—the “Bullwhip Squadron.” This squadron was the first true “Air Cavalry Squadron” in history, and COL Stockton set about to “write the book” on Air Cavalry operations. It seemed everyone knew and respected those black-hatted cavalrymen; a tradition that lives on today. Everything the squadron did added to the mystique of the “CAV” and the reputation of its daring, heroic, and legendary commander, COL Stockton. However, after a particularly tense engagement at la Drang on 3—4 Nov 1965, in which COL Stockton is personally took responsibility for the actions that saved the lives of nearly 100 men, fate intervened when the Assistant Division Commander disagreed with his employment of the attached Infantry company and promptly had him relieved. That decision, and the subsequent grounding of the CAV, deprived the Division of its “eyes” and “ears” as many men died and were wounded unnecessarily at LZ XRAY ALBANY. From that time on, COL Stockton seemed to lose his heart as he had lost his beloved CAV. He was angry with the Army who, it seemed, betrayed him in his finest hour and hurt by the scorn he perceived people felt for him. This unfair incident only added to his legend. In his final words, he said “I suppose I received an average batch of awards and decorations, the most important to me being the RVN Medal of Honor in recognition of the gallantry of my 1/9th Cavalry on the la Drang in late ’65.”

There followed seven years in Montreux, Switzerland, and five years in Heidelberg, Germany to oversee for Mike Davison ’39 the sale of wine and spirits to our forces in U.S. Army Europe.

In 1979, with his wife Rita, he moved permanently from Europe to Florida. Together, they invented, established, managed, and ultimately sold Business World enterprise, an office support service tailored to the lifestyle of busy Floridian entrepreneurs on the move and their associated boating neighbors. The business was copied worldwide, and this was an achievement of which he was very proud.

Finally, and in his own words, “I have always kept faith with the West Point precepts of Duty, Honor, Country. I have consistently upheld the ideal that a cadet and USMA graduate does not lie, cheat, steal, or quibble. I have learned from my wife Rita the narrow and difficult path of married unity and everlasting love. And I hold that I was singularly influential in rediscovering and defining once again the true Cavalry role in the profession of arms. Along the way, I have been guided and supported by hundreds of good men at all stations in life. Among my preceptors who not only inspired me but also lent a strong guiding hand in the formation of my career have been Eisenhower ’15, Richards ’15, Wogan ’15, Gavin ’29, Howze ’30, Michaelis ’36, Abrams ’36, Davison ’39, Bingham ’40, Seneff ’41, and Sheffey ’42. I join my brother now, Thomas W. Stockton ’49 in the Long Gray Line, reluctantly but with a full heart. In going, I admonish my own students of the Cavalry trade, Battreall ’49, Creuziger ’50, Robert G Bond, James F. Chadbourne, S. Guy Beardley, Billie G. Williams, Robert B. Zion, to keep the flame alive and to pass on however they can to those who follow the traditions and the precepts of our particular branch in the profession of arms. Beat Navy. [Done in Miami, FL, Nov—Dec 1991, JBS].”

Many would have liked to have had the traditional closing to say goodbye to the colonel, but it was his wish to hold a private family ceremony at sea. On hand for the final farewell were Rita and their three daughters, Annelies, Katinka, and Marionne.

To our hero, COL John B. Stockton, we bid farewell. And with this writing, we all hope your leadership will continue to inspire many generations to follow.

This is written by his widow, Rita Stockton, and her daughter, Annelies Kristie Stockton. This writing also contains excerpts from several articles published by the Bullwhip Squadron as well as from COL Stockton’s own writing.

I would like to relate a story I was told by LTC Mike Bogdue about Col John B. after he retired. Col Stockton was nearing the end of his life and he had called Mike to his residence. After talking a while the Colonel told Mike that he was hungry. He asked Mike if he was carrying. Mike said “Yes Sir”. The Colonel then told Mike that he wanted Mike to take Ruth, the Colonel’s wife to his favorite Mexican restaurant and get him some food. Mike took Ruth expecting to go to some kind of fancy place. As they were driving along, Ruth said, “Turn here”. Mike pulled into Taco Bell. Yes, that’s right. Taco Bell was the Colonel’s favorite Mexican Restaurant.

My first contact with Col. Stockton was when, as a young helicopter mechanic, I reported in to the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Aviation Co., 3rd Inf. Div. , Maj. John B. Stockton, in Sept. 1957, at Ft. Benning. There was never any doubt in anybody’s mind that he was the Commanding Officer, and a good description of the unit would be “spit shined”. But, at the same time, everybody liked him, and would go the extra mile for him, because he did the same for us. He didn’t have much tolerance for excuses. The Division was scheduled to gyro to Germany in May 1958, and he was on the L/Col. Promotion list, so he departed the unit in early 1958.

In the book, “Army Aviation in Vietnam 1961 to 1963”, on page 20, L/Col Stockton is shown in a meeting, planning the FIRST heliborne assault in Vietnam, in Dec. 1961. He was in the war from the get go. After that first operation, he was quoted in time magazine as saying, “ It was just like WW 11 out there”

Steve Hundley.