The buyer along with his family waited outside, at the gate. He, too, had put on his best clothes, hanging medals won in WWII. His 14-year old grandson was polishing a saddle in the station wagon. At the order of the master of the ceremony, the event commenced. A platoon size choir stood next to a band using civilian musical instruments. The gate opened. H-345 was led by a man dressed in medieval suit of armor, on foot. They both halted at the entrance. H-345 had two dyed ostrich plumes on his poll. Crownpiece, brow-band and noseband were ornamented. Reins, brand new, voluntarily provided by the buyer as a good gesture. A gold-embroidered horse-blanket of deep burgundy covered H-345's body, but exposing the white legs. Hooves, blackened. Horseshoes renewed. The choir sang, "He is a jolly good fellow". A man carrying a standard depicting "H, III, IV, V" marched in front of H-345. The man in the armor walked H-345. Men sang and dropped one rose stalk in the path, patting H-345 on the neck. Some kissed him on the cheeks, tears rolling.
When H-345 exited the gate, the buyer and his family approached H-345. The purchaser cautiously patted 345 on the neck. Having removed the blanket, he placed a brand new saddlecloth on 345. The saddle was gently laid in place. The girdle tied. The fort was silent. Tears rolled down. Then the buyer made a round about turn, facing the gate to say good-bye to men. Now H-345 stood on his hind legs and, neighing like a dragon, raised his fore legs in the air.
A week after, the pack mule company was ordered to carry some much needed ammunitions and 81mm mortars to the top of a mountain. On a sharp bend, H-345's mate slipped down the valley. Having broken his legs, sadly, men in charge had to shoot him in the head to cease his suffering. Why he slipped was controversial. Some said he was not concentrating.
Same week, vet Rufus was reassigned to a desk job at a logistic command.
( N.B. : H-345 did exist!)