Soldiers of the 2nd Squadron 6th Cavalry Regiment at Forward Operating Base Warrior were dressed in full battle rattle as they unloaded personnel carriers into a sea of chaos similar to day zero at basic training. It would prove to be a day of rigorous challenges, teamwork and unyielding commitment that would test the metal of every Soldier.
“This event is one of the most traditional customs the cavalry conducts. This time it was especially important because it took place in a combat zone,” said Command Sergeant Major Allen Haynes, Command Sgt. Maj., 2nd Squadron, 6th Cav. Regiment.
Soldier’s sights were locked on the highly coveted spurs of the cavalry. However, they must successfully traverse a series of tribulations known as the ‘Spur-Ride’.
“Historically, when a new trooper was assigned to a cavalry unit, his horse’s tail would be shaved. This signified the Soldier was in training and gives experienced warriors a visual warning to stand clear of the new recruit during combat. As the horse’s tail grew back, it would designate a more experienced and seasoned rider. Today is special because as Soldiers finish the spur-ride they will be honored like previous generations. Once a troop proves they can control a horse and sword he earned his spurs,” said Capt. Kevin J. Wardrobe, Commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 6th Cav. Regiment.
During the event all participants regardless of rank, job title or position were referred to as spur candidates. Cavalry members in leadership positions were called spur holders.
Soldiers hit the ground running as spur holders encouraged them to file into a four rank formation by assigned teams. Candidate team leaders were instructed to quickly get their Soldiers ready for a combat load layout. Although each group had its own specific instructions, Soldiers found themselves in mass confusion as spur holders changed the pre-developed plan they prepared for.
“Some of the challenges we have organized put Soldiers under stress and we assign them tasks that seem impossible to accomplish. It’s very similar to any other leaders’ course you go to. The purpose is to bring Soldiers together and function as a group to give them a better understanding of teamwork,” said Wardrobe.
Soldiers went from one extreme to the next as they quickly traded combat boots for running shoes. Although physically taxed since four in the morning candidates began a physical fitness test followed by classroom instruction and a written examination assessing their knowledge of unit history.
“It’s important to make sure everyone knows certain lineage and traditions of the cavalry such as the Fiddlers Green,” said Haynes. “Next came more encouragement and then they moved on to an eight mile road march, firing range, team building event and then ceremony. The spur-ride is a team effort and there are no individuals.”
During the team building event Soldiers painted buildings, cleaned weapons, washed vehicles and performed area beautification. With each passing assignment the candidates steadily pulled together forming solid working relationships.
“From start to finish you can see teamwork grow and its effectiveness. They help each other as the day moves on and the level of motivation goes up,” said Wardrobe.
As the day trotted on, Soldiers started working together making each obstacle a little more enjoyable.
“The ruck march was probably the most difficult because everyone was hurting and sore after it was finished. We also did some rifle training but as we all pulled together it turned into a good time really,” said Pfc. John Lott, Aviation Operation Specialist, HHT, 2nd Squadron, 6th Cav. Regiment.
After all tasks were completed Soldiers filed into a hanger for one final formation. With great anticipation and sense of accomplishment Soldiers were called one by one to receive what they had worked so hard for.
“I had a really great time. At first I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal but it was a proud moment to strap spurs on at the end. The fact we all worked together gave us all a good feeling and real pride in our accomplishment,” said Lott.
Honorary guest Brigadier General Frank Wiercinski, Assistant Division Support Commander, 25th Infantry Division also attended the event and administered an oath of reenlistment for Sgt. Miguel Aguirre, Aircraft Armament Repair Technician, A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment. In addition, Wiercisnki vowed to come back in March and participate in the next spur-ride along with Soldiers.
“I sincerely believe that Soldiers had a good time the whole day. One of the most important things Gen. Weircinski said at the ceremony is that he wanted to come back in March and earn his spurs the same way the Soldiers did. That meant a great deal to every one of those Soldiers,” said Haynes.
Concluding the ceremony Soldiers highlighted their achievements by wearing a set of shiny spurs and celebrating with other newly appointed spur holders.
“This spur-ride has given me a feeling that I completed something. It carries a lot of tradition and history I’m proud to be a part of now. The main thing I got out of it was being tied to the past in a very real way,” said Lott.