Certain honors are traditionally awarded to Army soldiers who prove their ability to conquer challenges. The way cavalry units grant their exclusive privilege to wear spurs is through the spur ride.
Thirty-nine soldiers with 1st “Dragon” Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, braved triple digit temperatures, physical exertion, 18 nonstop hours and a downpour of rain Sept. 4-5 to earn their spurs during the Dragon Spur Ride.
Second Lt. Markus Spicer, a Dragon fire direction officer, said the spur ride is a rite of passage, a way to build unit cohesion and teach new cavalry soldiers about tradition.
First Lt. Carlos Cuervo, Dragon Spur Ride coordinator, said the event is a way for soldiers to prove themselves and show they are worthy of wearing the spurs. A spur ride usually entails physical activity and knowledge of being a cavalry soldier.
Dragon spur candidates were required to meet the Army’s height and weight standards, have a minimum Army Physical Fitness Test score of 250 points, qualify sharpshooter on their individual weapon by shooting at least 30 out of 40 targets and have no pending disciplinary actions before participating.
After a safety brief, soldiers took a trip to the 1st Cavalry Division Museum to brush up on cavalry history and prepare for questions at a knowledge board held at the end of the spur ride.
“It’s been (interesting) learning all the history and being a part of something more than (myself),” Spicer said.
During the ride’s last leg, the battalion command team, Lt. Col. Richard Ng and Sgt. Maj. Steven Rosales, held a knowledge board to quiz candidates on the significance of elements in their unit’s crest, the colors of the 1st Cavalry Division patch and the importance of the spur ride.
When Rosales asked a team why cavalry units host spur rides, 2nd Lt. Patrick Hastings, a Dragon fire direction officer, listed esprit de corps, camaraderie, teamwork, tradition and challenge.
Claiming they missed a reason, Rosales asked the question again. After discussing, the team responded: lineage.
“There you go — history,” Rosales smiled. “Why is it important to know your history?”
“To know where we came from, sergeant major,” responded Sgt. Jeff Dieterle, a Dragon cannon crewmember.
All finishing candidates were released after the knowledge board and later received their spurs during a ceremony.
“Personally I believe it’s an accomplishment, but (there are) many more accomplishments to be had so (I) can’t stop at that,” Spicer said.