Founding member and long time commanding officer of the 7th Light Horse Bemboka Troop Gary Berman is hanging up his spurs.
It's been a long ride for Mr Berman, who started forming the Bemboka troop in 1999 and held the first parade in 2002 with five members.
The troop is now well known right across the district, taking part in Anzac Day services right across the shire and beyond, with some 34 members and their mounts at its zenith, and still 25 currently active members.
"I don't think Gary ever envisaged how big it would grow," said new commander and oral historian of the group Warren Davis.
Mr Davis was himself one of the original members and praised Mr Berman for "a tremendous amount of work" over the years.
Mr Berman said his role as troop commander became more difficult through COVID lockdowns and that "once you're out of a rhythm, it's difficult to get back into it".
Although there may be another reason for his calling time.
"I got too fat and my uniform won't fit anymore - and every horse that sees me now runs a mile!" he added with a chuckle.
Mr Berman said he had always been interested in military cavalry and that his grandfather and uncle had been involved in the 16th Hunter River Lancers.
"I always liked the idea of ceremonial duties," he said.
"I was originally part of the Bega Light Horse started by Keith Otton, Gary Traynor and John Lehmann. But it folded as things do.
"So I looked to start up the Bemboka troop."
I spent a lot of time getting the begging bowl out and running around local businesses - and RSLs mostly- Gary Berman
Mr Berman said it was an expensive exercise, particularly as members were keen to be as authentic as possible with their reproduction uniforms and regalia supplied to troopers. Not to mention the expenses involved in keeping and caring for horses.
"As we grew and developed we looked to raise money for uniforms and rode as a militia," Mr Berman said.
"I spent a lot of time getting the begging bowl out and running around local businesses - and RSLs mostly.
"I've had a lot of support from the RSLs."
Mr Berman said the troop grew to around 34 members at its highest point, mounted and marchers, as well as flag bearers, a bugler and a ceremonial troop nurse - Mr Berman's daughter Elizabeth.
The reason behind its denotation as the 7th Light Horse was a nod to the original regiment of mounted infantry raised in 1914 from men from South East NSW.
The 7th was only in active operation until 1919.
Eighty years later and Mr Berman - actually Officer Commanding, Captain (AAC) Gary Berman - revived the traditions for his Bemboka community.
"I remember one of the dawn parades in Bega with the troop emerging out of the fog - it was an awesome sight," he said.
Other highlights during his years in command included the annual Regimental Dining-in Nights, where everyone attended in dress uniform, enjoyed a guest speaker, "the passing of the port" and the camaraderie of fellow service personnel.
There was also the Men From Snowy River March centenary re-enactment in 2015, in which 7th Light Horse troopers not only took part between Delegate and Queanbeyan, but several even continued with the march all the way to Sydney
Also in 2015, the 7th Light Horse escorted NSW Governor David Hurley AC into the Bega Showground as the Bega Show hosted a special tribute to the fallen soldiers of World War 1.
In 2017, troopers were honoured to have the opportunity to join a march along Anzac Memorial Drive to the Canberra War Memorial, including paying their respects at the Australian Light Horse Memorial.
In 2018, for the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, most of the troop was present at the Bega War Memorial Gate on Remembrance Day, and in January 2022 troopers acted as pallbearers and a guard of honour for Colonel Adrian Roberts, who was the 7th Light Horse Bemboka Troop's most recent patron.
"I want to thank everyone in the troop for making it happen. It's been an honour," Mr Berman said.
"I also want to thank the wives and girlfriends who are always in the background polishing the brass and cleaning the saddles."
The 7th Light Horse troop will continue under Warren Davis, but with respect to its growing stature, there may be a name change on the horizon to note it has grown far beyond those humble beginnings in Bemboka thanks to the leadership of Gary Berman.
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