Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Ruth Pagán
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
For a grueling 36 hours, Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, and 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, both with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, pushed themselves to the limit during the squadron’s spur ride.
The Nov. 1-2 event pushed Soldiers to their physical and mental limit by testing their ability to operate as part of a team under high levels of stress and fatigue throughout day and night conditions.
“If you notice, (cavalry) is not a branch, (cavalry) is a state of mind,” said Col. Omar Jones IV, commander, 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., and senior spur holder. “(Cavalry) is about combined arms; it’s about moving faster, shooting straighter and thinking better. It doesn’t matter what your branch is, doesn’t matter what your (military job) is, what matters is (cavalry) is in your head and you’re going to prove that through your spur ride.”
The spur candidates were randomly placed into 10 teams, each with a “walker,” or spur holder, who coached the candidates through the spur ride, both with physical and verbal encouragement.
“The spur candidates are constantly questioned on cavalry history and basic soldiering skills,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Aanerud, operations noncommissioned officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., and spur holder. “If their answer is wrong, their body makes up for where their mind failed them, so they have to complete a physical task to make up for their lacking knowledge. As long as they don’t give up, they will get their spurs.”
The tasks the spur candidates were required to complete included a physical fitness test, a written test, vehicle identification, an obstacle course and a land navigation course, carrying a 40-65 pound rucksack.
“This is about physical and mental toughness,” said Lt. Col. Dave Guthrie, commander, 1st Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., and senior squadron spur holder. “It’s knowing you can overcome the obstacles; you’re going to gut through it because the guy next to you is going to gut through it.”
The Soldiers relied heavily on their fellow spur candidates for support and encouragement.
“It’s a team effort,” said Spc. Logan Cruci, cavalry scout, HHT, and spur candidate. “We came together as a group and accomplished things we probably wouldn’t have been able to alone, because we pushed each other and wouldn’t let each other fail.”
The spur ride isn’t just about a Soldier gaining his silver spurs; it’s also a way for the squadron to distinguish its best and brightest Soldiers.
“This is how the (cavalry) identifies their leaders,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Blizzard, senior enlisted leader, HHT, and spur holder. “So, knowing that every leader in the squadron knows how to push themselves past that limit — that refusal to quit, that’s what makes us stronger as an organization.”
Out of the 134 spur candidates, 123 completed the physically-demanding challenge and rucked to a ceremony held at Turkey Creek Ranch, where they were presented with silver spurs and a barbecue lunch.
“Not every Soldier gets this opportunity, and for me to be able to go through this and accomplish it — I feel really proud,” said Sgt. Joyce Ho, intelligence analyst, HHT, 1st Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., spur recipient. “I think everyone should do it; it’s a way to test yourself physically and mentally to see what you can do, and more often than not, you will surprise yourself at what you can accomplish when you set your mind to it.”