Site Manager of Parsons Mounted Cavalry
The Texas A&M Foundation honored Bob Byrns with this year's first Bugle Call at the Texas A&M vs. Ball State football game on Sept. 12.
Bob Byrns ’74 is a man whose life’s work as a saddle maker allows him to be a caretaker of one of Kyle Field’s most memorable traditions. He serves as site manager and adviser to Parson’s Mounted Cavalry, a parade and show unit within the Corps Cadets that represents the university at events across Texas.
The cavalry has a storied tradition at Texas A&M. Before World War I, the university trained cadets in horsemanship and cavalry tactics. At its peak, the school’s cavalry unit trained more than 500 young men. But by 1943, technology made horses obsolete in battle, so cavalry training was removed from cadet education.
The seeds of a revival were planted in 1972, when Yell Leaders borrowed horses from a professor and rode them around Kyle Field before the football season’s opening game.
To some, this appeared to be a simple act of youthful behavior; to others, it seemed to be a show prepared only for entertaining the 12th Man. But three Class of 1974 cadets in the crowd—Michael Collins, Pete Starks and Darrell Williams—recognized it as an opportunity to resurrect the cavalry tradition. These cadets asked Col. Tom Parsons ’49, then Corps commandant, to help reestablish the horse cavalry. Parsons gave his blessing, and in return, they named the cavalry in his honor.
Byrns was a founding member of the reinstated unit in 1973. Years later, he would quietly begin volunteering his time and help before eventually assuming a leadership role over the group in 2002.
With the reins in his hands, Byrns’ immediately began working with cadets on the qualifications required to be part of the cavalry. Passing on skills to cadets such as advanced horse knowledge, leatherworking skills, and hands-on leadership, Byrns ensures that the cavalry remains a respected and distinguished organization, true to its history. As a mentor to cadets, he also ensures that skills learned in the cavalry are translatable beyond graduation and cadets’ time in the organization.
The cavalry, which has a Texas A&M Foundation endowment to help support the organization, is perhaps most well-known for its role in possibly the loudest Aggie tradition: the Spirit of ’02 cannon, which fires every time the Aggies score. On game days, Byrns can always be found right next to the cannon—there’s no place else he’d rather be.
To salute Byrns’ dedication to the cavalry and this cherished Aggie tradition, the Spirit of ’02 fired specially at the end of the first quarter during the Sept. 12 game between Texas A&M and Ball State.
The Texas A&M Foundation salutes Bob Byrns ’74 for his lifelong commitment to preserving the Aggie spirit and improving the educational and extracurricular experience of members of the Corps.
Texas A&M Foundation
The Texas A&M Foundation is a nonprofit organization that solicits and manages investments in academics and leadership programs to enhance Texas A&M’s capability to be among the best universities.