DON'T LOOK DOWN
FORT POLK, La. - Spc. Amanda Davis, a food service specialist attached to Troop D, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, climbs down a "stairway to heaven" obstacle during the obstacle-course portion of a Spur Ride, Jan. 7.

FORT POLK, La - Being a woman in today's Army is not the easiest path a young lady can choose; and being a female Soldier attached to a Cavalry troop doesn't make matters any easier. One 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Soldier recently "earned her spurs" and proved her mettle - as she has for much of her life.

Spc. Amanda Davis is a 22 year old cook from Lexington, S.C. attached to Troop D, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment. Last month she participated in a challenging squadron "Spur Ride" that tests Soldiers' skills and spirit, not to mention physical, mental and emotional toughness.

"I was hurting and I was cold; and I hate being cold. I wanted to stop so badly, and I kept praying and thinking to myself, 'You have got to keep moving; you have got to keep doing it,'" said Davis. "It was very challenging all the way around, but I made it through."

The Order of the Spur is a time-honored tradition for Cavalry scouts, Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Semerena, squadron command sergeant major for 3-89 CAV, told Pfc. Brian Glass, a 4-10 MTN journalist, during a recent interview. Cavalry troops can earn their spurs after successfully completing a 'Spur Ride' or after having served during combat as a member of a Cavalry unit, he explained.

"The tradition of having to 'earn your spurs' reaches back to the beginning of the Cavalry," Semerena told Glass. "When green Troopers first arrived at their new Cavalry assignments, they were assigned a horse with a shaved tail until they proved their skills."

Davis does not ever want to be considered a second-class Soldier, and 3-89 CAV leadership does not want her to either. The Spur Ride gave her and the chain of command that believed in her an opportunity to prove she is a first-rate trooper.

"It (earning my spurs) makes me feel good. It is like I don't have to think that I am second to a male. I can do it also," Davis said. "It was a real accomplishment. I thank my commander, first sergeant and my sponsor.

"It meant a lot for the simple fact that I had males believing in me," Davis continued. "I didn't think that I could do it, because the way they made it seem like it was just going to be torture and I didn't want to do it, but I was pushed to that level. I am glad I was, and it is a big accomplishment."

Spur Ride events included marching a total of about 12 miles with a rucksack, negotiating an obstacle course and performing Soldier tasks - such as evaluating and transporting a casualty, interacting with news media, searching a detainee, performing first-aid, and conducting maintenance on various weapons - during day and frigid nighttime conditions.

Due to her 5", 1" frame and less-than-heavy weight, Davis said the rucksack marching was the toughest part of the Spur Ride. However, she is used facing and succeeding in mentally, emotionally and physically challenging situations in her life.

Davis has always been physically fit, a fact she attributes in part to inheriting her father's athletic abilities. She "ran track" as part of her high school's track and field team, and has earned three physical fitness patches since enlisting for achieving at least scores of 300 on record Army Physical Fitness Tests. However, Davis has displayed caring, compassion and cerebral abilities as a high school and community college student and as a Soldier too. Her interests in nursing led her to take advanced science courses in school.

"I love helping people ... and worked in oncology for a little while," said Davis. "And, since my grandma had cancer, it was kind of close to my heart."

Davis explained that she participated in a job-shadowing program while a student, taking blood-pressure readings for patients and sitting with and talking to chemotherapy patients while giving them juice and things like that. Davis also worked at a hospice for about a month or two but said she couldn't pursue that as a career because she is too emotionally attached.
Davis' grandparents adopted and raised her. She was especially close to her grandmother, Cynthia Wise. It was to help her grandmother that Davis decided to leave college and enlist in the Army.

"I left Denmark Tech, because my grandma had gotten really sick at the time," explained Davis. "They (recruiters) said I could put my grandma as a dependent and they will help take care of her ... because it was just me and my grandmother. Then I could finish (pursuing classes possibly leading to) med school."

Unfortunately, Davis' grandmother passed away at the end of her basic-training cycle. Still, Davis is glad she signed up to enter the Army.

"I don't (regret enlisting), because as I have progressed. I know that she (Wise) is proud of me," said Davis. "And, I am doing a lot more than what I probably would have been doing at home."
In basic training, Davis' physical prowess helped her earn respect of both male and female comrades. She used her abilities to compete with the guys and motivate the women.

"I am really competitive, (and) I always try to do the best in PT," said Davis. (There) was me and this one big, muscular dude. He went to Wake Forest and was a football player, but I always outdid him in PT. He used to be so mad about it."

Because of her motivational mentality and having the highest APFT score among the women with whom she went to basic training, Davis said she would take it upon herself to lead her comrades in performing pushups and other PT. Of course these extra PT sessions occurred when the lights were out and they were supposed to be in bed.

Davis' ability and desire to motivate and spur on others continued at her first duty station following initial training, Camp Casey, Korea. Even though she was still a Private First Class, her non-commissioned officer support channel made her a shift leader. Davis said her leaders entrusted her with this position because of her ability to motivate others and her willingness to put in the extra work.

Davis has offered her assistance to other female Soldiers in her unit who might want to train with her and prepare for a future Spur Ride. After all, she feels good about earning her spurs, and she said the Spur Ride gives Soldiers with other jobs an opportunity to see what cooks can do, male or female.

Possible disappointment was one of the biggest fears Davis faced when accepting the Spur Ride challenge. She said she did not want to disappoint anyone in her company, especially any of the other female Soldiers, and she did not want to disappoint herself. Not only did Davis not let anyone down, but also she proved her mettle; and she has some advice to spur others to do the same.

"(I'd tell them) the same thing I tell myself - don't ever be scared to do something new, because if you never try, you will never know what would have happened," said Davis. "And, you will always be mad at (yourself for) that 'what if.'
"Always set your goals or your sights higher than what you always think you can do," continued Davis. "You will definitely outdo yourself; I do when I push myself to that level."

Page last updated Tue February 16th, 2010 at 09:36