"Black Dragon" troopers build esprit de corps, earn silver spurs
March 30, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas--Soldiers assigned to 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, competed amongst themselves and in teams to earn a pair of silver spurs during a unit spur ride at Fort Hood, March 12-14.
The tradition of being awarded a set of spurs dates back when early Cavalry Soldiers demonstrated their ability to perform with their horse and sabers.
Today, Soldiers in cavalry units have the opportunity to earn gold spurs while deployed to a combat environment or they can earn silver spurs by successfully completing a spur ride. The spurs serve as recognition that the individual met a prescribed level of standards in a variety of tasks.
"The spur ride is an event that tests our Soldiers not only physically but also mentally on different Soldier tasks, skill levels one through four tasks, and their motivation and teamwork to get through the entire event," said 1st Lt. Josh Hollingsworth, an assistant operations officer, assigned to 5th Bn., 82nd FA Reg.
"Black Dragon" Soldiers assigned to 5th Bn., 82nd FA Reg., began the spur ride by taking the Army Physical Fitness Test, where they needed to pass each event -- push ups, sit ups, and a 2-mile run -- with a score of 70 percent or greater.
Troopers completed an obstacle course, located points during land navigation testing, and early the following morning, conducted a 12-mile ruck march over varying terrain.
"We train all the time as a group and we set ourselves to higher standards," added Private Alexander Beasley, who received his silver spurs the next day.
"If I receive my spurs, I will have a feeling of success," said Beasley, as he went through the weapons station. "This training has helped me to be more proficient in the things I do (as a Soldier), like taking apart weapons, maneuvering through obstacles, dealing with the enemy and nonverbal communication," said Beasley, a field artilleryman assigned to Battery B, 5th Bn., 82nd FA Reg., and a native of Santa Barbara, Calif.
Despite enduring a few blisters and fatigue, Soldiers of all ranks continued to push forward in hopes of becoming part of this cavalry tradition.
"We have officers, noncommissioned officers and Soldiers, but we all work together to achieve the same goal--working as a team. Even current spur riders are going through some of the events to be a part of this team," said Lt. Col. William Johnson, commander of the "Black Dragon" battalion.
Soldiers demonstrated their knowledge of basic skill level tasks areas including radio communications, weapons, military vehicle maintenance, reacting to improvised explosive devices, and first aid procedures. They also reacted to simulated enemy contact in a culminating training event.
"I couldn't be prouder of the teams that are doing the training and the Soldiers that are out here competing for the spurs," said Johnson.
"They are motivating. They're getting some reinforcement on common tasks as well as learning things they normally wouldn't do. They're starting to learn techniques, tactics, and procedures they would use if they were to encounter (certain situations)," added Johnson, a native of Richmond, Va.
After enduring two days of physical and mental challenges and a one-on-one interview with the commander and command sergeant major, leaders within the battalion awarded 47 Soldiers the coveted silver spurs.
With muddied boots, tired eyes, and worn uniforms, "Black Dragon" troopers held their heads high as senior spur holders inducted them into the Order of the Spur--something they worked so hard to earn.
"I think it's really important that we do events like this because it is a team building event," said Hollingsworth, who helped coordinate the spur ride. "It brings Soldiers together to do something we don't do all the time," added the native of Huntsville, Ala.
The battalion is looking forward to having another spur ride later this year for other "Black Dragon" Soldiers to have a chance to earn their silver spurs. These types of training activities not only build cohesion, but they also ensure trained and ready Soldiers make the Army and Nation stronger.