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A plaque on the back wall of the Spanish Horse Riding school ticket office.


A small highly (18” by 18”) polished inscribed marble plaque.


The plaque remembers the efforts of two US Army Officers, who were also avid horsemen, General George Patton (Commander 3rdUS Army)  and Colonel Charles Hancock “Hank” Reed (Commander of the 2ndCavalry), for saving the famed Lipizzaner horses and returning them to Austria.


The operation to save the famed horses was known as “Operation Cowboy”.


Operation Cowboy was a daring raid behind enemy lines to Hostau (Hostoun in present day Czech Republic) Czechoslovakia on April 28, 1945 to save the horses as well as liberate Allied POWs.  The mission was accomplished by a small task Force – Task Force Reed – built around the 2ndCavalry Group’s 2ndand 42ndSquadrons.  After tense and secret negotiations led by Captain Thomas Stewart, the 42ndCav Intell Officer - also an equestrian, with German military personnel eager to save the horses from the advancing Soviet armies, Colonel Charles Reed, Commander of the 2ndCav, developed a mission to which was latently approved by the 3rdArmy Commander, George Patton who reportedly responded “Get them. Make it fast!


The mission was a huge success.  Stealthy driving behind enemy lines The Task Force freed the Lipizzaners  and subsequently returned to Austria via Germany with the help of an eclectic group which included members of the German armed forces and a small group of Russian Cossacks. Task Force Reed saved over 300 horses and liberated more POWs than expected – about 400. Two Troopers were killed in the raid near Bela nad Radbozou: PFC Raymond Manz and T/5 Charles Sutton, of Task Force Stewart from Troop A, 42nd Reconnaissance Squadron.


Colonel Reed recounted post-war: “The 2nd Armored Cavalry Group performed admirably many more difficult and dangerous operations in the European campaigns. However, all of our members – recall with special pride their contribution to Austrian culture and happiness – “The Rescue of the Lipizzaners at Hostau”.


See these other sites/memorials on our website for more on Operation Cowboy:


Czech Republic:

Site:Bela nad Radbuzou- Town Center

Memorial:  Monument to Operation Cowboy Casualties


Site:  Bela nad Radbuzou- Fallen Site

Memorial:  Operation Cowboy Marker





Site:  Vienna- Spanish Riding School


Memorial: Operation Cowboy Plaque


Monument Text:

Zur Erinnerung an U.S. General George Smith PATTON


Colonel Charles Hancock REED


Sie wirkten an der Heimkehr unserer

Lipizzaner nach Österreich im April

des Jahres 1945 massgeblich mit:


Die Spanische Hofreitschule



English translation:


In memory of U.S. General George Smith PATTON


Colonel Charles Hancock REED


They worked on returning our

Lipizzaner to Austria in April 1945

with the essential help of the


The Spanish Riding School



George Smith Patton

Charles Hancock “Hank” Reed

Thomas Millville Stewart


2nd Cavalry Group

2nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron

3rd US Army

42nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Group (2nd Cavalry Regiment)




Operation Cowboy

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