By 2nd Lt. Michael Everett, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry RegimentMarch 2, 2017
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (March 2, 2017) -- "They have honored their regiment."
With these five words, Lt. Col. Robert Duchaine, commander of the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, praised the Soldiers of the Ghost Squadron Spur Ride on Feb. 16 at Fort Drum.
The assembled troops did not seem to notice the bitter cold or the snow as they stood proudly to receive their hard-earned spurs.
The ceremony officially inducted 114 Ghost Squadron troopers, along with 14 members from Squadron D, Royal Canadian Dragoons out of Petawawa, Ontario, into the prestigious Order of the Spur.
"Earning my spurs means joining something bigger than myself -- becoming a part of a tradition that has a remarkable past and a hopeful future," said Pfc. Samantha Digby, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3-71 Cavalry.
The grueling physical and mental challenge began in the early morning hours of Valentine's Day and did not finish until nearly noon the next day.The events mainly focused on individual and collective reconnaissance and surveillance tasks that are a cavalry trooper's bread and butter.
The 10- to 12-person teams were dropped off at various locations and then Soldiers found their way to the seven stations, testing their land navigation, weapons, communications and cold weather operations skills.
Teamwork was the name of the game and what the Soldiers counted on to win the day.
"For us, it was all about the team building and camaraderie," said Warrant Officer Matt Edwards, a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
Edwards earned his spurs during the 2014 iteration of the event. He was back this year in charge of a station that required Soldiers to put up a tent, sanitize water and prepare to receive casualties who needed shelter from the harsh weather.
In times gone by, cavalry Soldiers were not allowed to wear spurs until they had proven their horsemanship skills after a lengthy training program. Troopers can now earn silver spurs during a spur ride or gold spurs by serving in a cavalry unit in combat.
Today, a trooper of any rank can be called upon to lead a team during a spur ride challenge. To be successful, spur candidates must forge bonds immediately and learn to work together, according to Capt. Jordan LaPoint, a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
"The natural leaders will emerge, regardless of rank," he said.