By Sgt. William Begley, 3rd Combat Aviation BrigadeMarch 24, 2014
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. -- Lighthorse Troopers from the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade put their soldiering knowledge, leadership skills, and physical endurance to the test while building espirit-de-corps March 13-14 as the Lighthorse Squadron held their first Spur Ride since returning from deployment last October.
The Troopers participated in numerous events including: an Army Physical Fitness Test, obstacle course, execution of warrior tasks and battle drills, a downed aircraft extraction, four mile run, and a land navigation course. After that, candidates put their knowledge to the test by attending a Spur board. Spur candidates were required to ruck march between each event, and going without sleep for almost 30 hours, the board was a bit more challenging.
The event culminated in a barbecue at Lotts Island Recreation Area which Family members were invited to attend.
Army Lt. Col. Geoffrey Whittenberg, commander, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, said it was a tremendous event in which over 50 of his Lighthorse Troopers participated as Spur candidates. It was his first Spur Ride as the Lighthorse Squadron commander.
"It's physically tough, but it's mentally tough as well because they have to know a lot of historic cavalry knowledge, tactics and unit lineage," said Whittenberg. "They also have to recite the "Fiddler's Green"."
Fiddler's Green is the legendary afterlife imagined by Cavalrymen. Its first known appearance in published form was in a 1923 Cavalry Journal. It is 146 words long and contains four paragraphs. It was appropriate not only because it is cavalry tradition, but it is a way to remember and honor our Fallen Cavalry Troopers.
In his normal day job, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brian Fullen is an instructor pilot with Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment. For the Spur Ride he acted in an observer controller trainer capacity. Fullen commented on the realism of the training exercises.
"The downed aircraft lane is very important for us as aviators, and it's also a good thing for those of us who don't fly to see our procedures for a downed aircraft like sterilizing the cockpit and securing all necessary equipment before you leave," said Fullen. "It tests soldiers mettle. It's a very strenuous exercise because of how long it is."
One of the soldiers who participated in the event was Spc. Lukas Davis, Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment.
"It was very challenging. I did a lot of tasks that I wouldn't normally do," said Davis. "The pilots were all familiar with the downed aircraft situational exercise lane, but for me it was all new stuff."
As the candidates marched across the finish line at Lotts Island Recreation Area, Whittenberg announced to all the Family members in the crowd that in the last 30 hours these Soldiers had all covered over 20 miles walking and running. It was now time to award them with their silver spurs.
"A lot of soldiers will tell you that their silver spurs mean more to them than the gold spurs that they earned while being deployed," said Whittenberg. "Gold spurs are awarded to Cavalry Troopers who deploy, but you have to earn the silver spurs through a mental and physical gut check."