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Fort Campbell’s Currahees take the Spur Ride Challenge

Posted By News Staff On Saturday, November 3, 2012 @ 10:30 pm In News | No Comments

Written by Staff Sgt. Todd A. Christopherson
4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionThe CurraheesFort Campbell, KY – Soldiers with 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, earned their spurs during a Spur Ride on October 24th to 25th, 2012 at Fort Campbell, KY.

The cavalry tradition within the U.S. Army is called the Order of the Spur. Any Soldier serving with cavalry units (referred to as troopers) can be inducted into the Order of the Spur after successfully completing a “Spur Ride” or for having served during combat as a member of or with a Cavalry unit.

Trying to earn the coveted spurs of a Cavalry "Trooper", Soldiers with 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, a fire team moves into a support by fire position covered by the other fire team in the Movement to Contact lane during a Spur Ride, Oct. 24 to 25, 2012, as a Spur Holder observes their movement, commands and team work, at Fort Campbell, Ky. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Todd A. Christopherson, 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs) [1]

Trying to earn the coveted spurs of a Cavalry “Trooper”, Soldiers with 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, a fire team moves into a support by fire position covered by the other fire team in the Movement to Contact lane during a Spur Ride, Oct. 24 to 25, 2012, as a Spur Holder observes their movement, commands and team work, at Fort Campbell, Ky. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Todd A. Christopherson, 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs)

“These Spur Rides keep us linked up with our history and lineage,” said 1st Lt. Duwayne Edington, the assistant operations officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Sqdn., 61st Cav. Rgt., 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div., “It also helps develop an espirit de corp within the branch.”

The tradition of having to “earn your spurs” reaches back to the beginning of the cavalry. When green troopers first arrived at their new cavalry assignments, they were assigned a horse with a shaved tail. This led to the nickname “shaved tail” for newly assigned, spur-less Soldiers.

“Traditionally the new trooper rides a horse with a shaved tail,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Sutton, the commander of the 1st Sqdn., 61st Cav. Rgt., 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div. “Earning your spurs shows you have proven mastery of your chosen profession.”

A "Spur Holder" holds a set of the coveted spurs of a Cavalry "Trooper", during the awards ceremony, Oct. 24 to 25, 2012, for the Soldiers with 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, that qualified both mentally and physically during the Spur Ride at Fort Campbell, Ky. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Todd A. Christopherson, 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs) [2]

A “Spur Holder” holds a set of the coveted spurs of a Cavalry “Trooper”

The Spur Ride is the only means of joining the Order of the Spur, besides a wartime induction. Conducting a Spur Ride varies but it is generally held over multiple days during which a Soldier must pass a series of physical and mental tests relevant to the Cavalry.

“Considering I have been in the unit for less than a month,” said Pvt. Damion Cephus, a Soldier with Alpha Troop 1st Sqdn., 61st Cav. Rgt., 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div. “It made me feel real dedicated to the troop having earned my spurs.”

Earning your spurs holds a similar relationship for the cavalry as the Expert and Combat Infantryman Badge holds to the U.S. Army Infantry.

Trying to earn the coveted spurs of a Cavalry "Trooper", Soldiers with 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, negotiate the Swing, Stop and Jump obstacle during a Spur Ride, Oct. 24 to 25, 2012, as a Spur Holder observes them at Fort Campbell, Ky. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Todd A. Christopherson, 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs) [3]

Trying to earn the coveted spurs of a Cavalry “Trooper”

Some of the tests evaluate leadership, technical and tactical proficiency, physical fitness, and the ability to operate as part of a team under high levels of stress and fatigue during both day and night conditions, though the specific tests vary by unit.

“The 15 lanes of the Spur Ride, the lanes are formatted like the lanes of a EIB site,” said 1st Sgt. James Nichols, the first sergeant of Troop B, 1st Sqdn., 61st Cav. Rgt., 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div., “When the horse and Soldier become technically and tactically proficient together, the trooper receives their spurs.”

A written test is often also administered, with questions that cover United States Cavalry and unit history.

“Tested my own physical and mental capacity as I didn’t know what to expect,” said 2nd Lt. Michele Weinstein, the medical officer in charge of 1st Sqdn., 61st Cav. Rgt., 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div., The Spur Ride “With a Layout, written test, air assault obstacle course with long ruck marches and different events in-between to test our mental agility.”

Some of the 15 lanes included first aid and 9 line MEDVAC tasks, sling load testing and aircraft orientation, react to contact, to name a few.

During the Spur Ride, candidates are also often required to recite from memory the traditional cavalry poem, “Fiddler’s Green”, or other traditions or historical information pertaining to the cavalry.

The poem by Edmund Clarence Stedman is one of the numerous poems about the cavalry that helps to show how steep the feelings for the history and tradition are in the cavalry.

Our good steeds sniff the evening air,
Our pulses with their purpose tingle;
The foeman’s fires are twinkling there;
He leaps to hear our sabres jingle!
Halt!

Each carbine sends its whizzing ball;
Now, cling! clang! forward all,
Into the fight!

Trying to earn the coveted spurs of a Cavalry "Trooper", Pfc. Timothy R. Griffin with Troop B, 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, goes over one the beams that comprise the Six Vault obstacle during the Spur Ride, Oct. 24 to 25, 2012, at Fort Campbell, Ky. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Todd A. Christopherson, 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs) [5]“We exchanged horses for tanks and helicopters but are still keeping to the old traditions,” said Edington. “We still are taking new troopers and training them to be proficient in their equipment of today.”

Of the 119 Soldiers who started the Spur Ride, a 104 qualified to earn their spurs and the privilege to be called a spur holder.

“Having proved worthy of the coveted spurs,” said Sutton, “They will keep us tied to the traditions and heritage of the past.”


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