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CALABASH—Back when he assisted with the rescue of a team of royal horses during World War II, Julius King Suggs was a few decades younger.
Little did the corporal in the 42nd Squadron of Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army know that someday he would be reunited with the offspring of the horses he helped save—the fancy-footed Royal Lipizzaner stallions, right smack at his daughter’s stables on Hickman Road.
But that’s what happened last week when the 84-year-old Tabor City resident and Dula, his wife of 59 years, traveled to see the performing horses boarding at Peachtree Equestrian Center, the stables owned and operated by their daughter, Gloria Smith, outside Calabash.
Tuesday night, March 18, they were treated to front-row seats, and Julius Suggs was feted with a plaque honoring him for his assistance with the horses’ rescue and protection by the U.S. Army’s 2nd Cavalry in April 1945.
“Well, I was close by,” Suggs said of his involvement as a Cprl-TR5 of the 42nd Squadron of Patton’s Third Army.
Suggs was among troops who were placed on guard after 150 Royal Lipizzaner stallions, mares and foals were rescued in Hostau, Czechoslovakia, while more adult stallions were being protected in St. Martin’s, Austria.
The retired mechanic of close to 60 years said he saw the horses as they were being assisted from custody under the Germans, who loved the horses but feared the approaching Russians would destroy the breed.
Nearly 63 years later, Suggs’ wife and daughter marveled he got an opportunity to see the mighty stallions once again, along with his first chance to see them dance and prance during their two-night appearance at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
Suggs also received an award from White Stallion Productions for his role in the Lipizzaners’ rescue.
Smith said the presentation was great since her dad was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge but was never recognized because his records were destroyed in a fire.
Suggs estimated the horses in this generation of Royal Lipizzaners are the great-great grandchildren of the ones he helped hold in Czechoslovakia,
where a monument now stands honoring the World War II soldiers who helped rescue them, Smith said.
According to the stallions’ Web site, www.Lipizzaner.com, the horses’ rescue from the Spanish Riding School came about when Vienna was being attacked by allied bombers.
After the war, the horses were moved to safer stables in Germany after the Russian and Czech governments argued over their possession. The Royal Lipizzans were soon returned to Col. Podhajsky of the Spanish Riding School, and the rest is history.
Suggs may have found adventure during the war, but “there was more adventure when he got home,” Dula Suggs said. “He met me.”
Despite the experience and their daughter’s own professional involvement at the equestrian center, the Suggses themselves are not horseback-riders.
“I wouldn’t get on one for nothin’,” Dula Suggs said, especially now that she’s 80.
“I don’t think I would’ve done it when I was 20,” she added.
Julius tried to ride one of the Lipizzans when he was guarding them in Czechoslovakia.
“I thought they had that one trained to throw me every time I tried to get on it,” he said.