Vilseck, Germany - The tradition of an Army Trooper earning their spurs dates back to the beginning of the cavalry when newly enlisted Soldiers learned how to ride their horses without spurs so they did not harm the animal.
Today, to earn their silver spurs, cavalry squadrons conduct 'spur rides'; a day in which Soldiers are tested on their proficiency of common military tasks and skills while pushed to physical exhaustion.
Within the ranks of 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment on Aug. 27 was Trevor Pedersen. A precocious 8 year old who got out of the first week of third grade to find out what it is like to be a Soldier.
"I learn way cooler stuff here!" exclaimed Trevor about missing school. "Way cooler!"
Trevor was diagnosed with Fahr's disease, a degenerative illness that makes it difficult to walk and will eventually rob him of the ability to move on his own.
For his birthday, Trevor's uncle, 1st Lt. Erik Pedersen gave him a trip to Germany to live his dream.
As an assistant operations officer for Headquarters Troop, Pedersen was already planning the squadron's spur ride. With a little more coordination, he was able to add his nephew to the roster so he would be immersed in the culture and tradition of the Army.
"I thought the spur ride was the perfect opportunity to show case (the Army), have him get hands on everything and interact with the Soldiers," he explained. "So he gets the full breadth of the Soldier experience."
Trevor participated in all the events the Soldiers are required to complete to receive their silver spurs. It all began with the 12-mile ruck march, when he, with the assistance of his father Jason Pedersen and Uncle Erik, joined Soldiers from the Squadron on mile six at midnight of Aug. 26.
That early morning start did not deter Trevor from delving into the rest of the day's activities. With wide eyed enthusiasm and a positive attitude he moved around to each station half walking with his walker and half by vehicle to keep up with his teammates.
Trevor looked every part the Soldier with his Army t-shirt adorn with skill badges and a dog tag around his neck.
"Trevor, since two or three years old, has dreamed about being a Soldier," said Jason Pedersen.
The idea to give Trevor the day in the life of a Soldier experience was sparked from a photograph Erik received from his brother Jason. Trevor had recently got a new walker to assist him in getting around. One of the first things he did with it was decorate it with Army stickers.
"I just thought to myself 'Here's this kid going through an unimaginable (experience)," 1st Lt. Pedersen recounted.
"Like me and almost every young kid that age, (they have) a real fascination with Army things and I am in this position to be able to put something together so he can experience some of that."
Throughout the day, Trevor's high spirits and friendliness made him one of the guys. Like kids his age, he offered creative suggestions on how to improve weapon systems and various military activities. He asked off the wall questions, joked around and playfully 'dropped' some of his teammates.
All along his father looked on and offered encouragement whenever he wanted to quit so he did not lose sight of his goal to finish.
"It (the Army) has always been part of his life, so this was more than just coming out and hanging out, it was a dream come true for him," said Jason.
Trevor learned how to clear, load and perform a function check on several weapons including the 240B and .50 caliber machine guns; Mk19 grenade launcher and M9 pistol. He also landed three faux grenades on target; set up a claymore mine; and administered first aid to a simulated casualty.
During an ambush in the woods he became a simulated casualty himself. He was bandaged up, secured onto a SKEDCO litter and pulled through the brush to the extraction-landing zone.
"I liked getting rescued by the Army," he answered when asked what his favorite event was.
At the last station, Trevor learned how to set up a RT1523 radio for two way communications, which he used to transmit a message to his uncle to tell him what a great time he had on the spur ride and that he was the best uncle in the world.
The final challenge of the day was the hike to the finish line. The last hundred yards is what Trevor's dad will remember the most.
"I could see his foot was dragging behind him, which means he is in a lot of pain," Jason said as tears stared to form. "His muscles are contracting and they are cramping up. I know that look. He was asking,' Daddy can I stop, I am hurting,' and I was saying no."
Trevor crossed the finish line with several Soldiers cheering and chanting for him. He went on to the ceremony to be inducted into The Order of the Spurs with all the other Troopers of the squadron.
"This was one of those monumental days that change a relationship between a father and a son," said Jason with pride.