By Sgt. Wayne Diaz, 1st ABCT PAOJune 24, 2013
CAMP HOVEY, South Korea -- Harsh jeers from the seasoned spur holders echoed as they steadily paced through the ranks of exhausted candidates. The start of day three left the Soldiers with little recovery time as they headed out on a 12-mile ruck march.
With 21 hours of mental and physical hurdles remaining, the candidates' perseverance and determination would have to survive its final test in their quest to earn their beloved spurs.
Approximately 150 Soldiers, Korean Augmentees to the United States Army, and Republic Of Korea army cavalry Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division participated in the 4th Squadron, 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment's Spur Ride May 20-23, 2013, at Camps Hovey and Casey.
As a major part of cavalry tradition, earning spurs also earns a Soldier respect, and separates its holders from their peers. During this test of mental and physical fortitude, candidates strive to become a part of cavalry history, and embrace the pride and honor associated with it.
"It's an opportunity to accomplish a very difficult goal that not many Soldiers have or can," said new spur holder, Pfc. Chris Hunt, Bradley Fighting Vehicle System Maintainer, 4th Squadron, 7th U.S. Cav. Regt.
To become eligible for spur candidacy and participate in this event, Soldiers must be assigned to a cavalry unit, achieve a minimum score of 270 points on their Army Physical Fitness Test and qualify as a sharpshooter or above with their assigned weapon, said spur holder Staff Sgt. Ruben Ojeda, Light Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic, 4th Squadron., 7th U.S. Cav. Regt.
During this event, candidates must successfully complete a series of warrior tasks, including a APFT, a four-mile run, 12-mile ruck march, and a 20-question test challenging the candidates' knowledge of cavalry history.
The spur ride is also rich in camaraderie as it encourages teamwork and discipline. Candidates were split into teams and tasked with completing missions as a cohesive unit. At seven different stations, the slew of the battle drills included casualty evacuation and first aid, reaction to contact, calling for fire, establishing a fighting position, performing radio communication, executing a vehicle recovery, and displaying their knowledge and proficiency on five different weapons.
"It's a team effort, you can't do it all by yourself," said Pfc. Luis Zaruma, Track Vehicle Repairer, 4th Squadron, 7th U.S. Cav. Regt. "We made it our jobs to motivate each other to get through it."
Though sheer will and physical strength are both necessary characteristics to achieve the feat, it all comes down to a key intangible shared by all spur holders.
"All it takes is heart, that's all there is to it," said Zaruma.
Togetherness, overcoming adversity, and pushing yourself above and beyond limitations are all trademarks of the Spur Ride and cavalry tradition. Though spurs are the physical reward for the candidates' commendable effort, the honor of becoming a spur holder through blood, sweat and tears accompanies them throughout not only their military careers, but also their lives.