By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsDecember 16, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - When Staff Sgt. Bernard Hale first heard about a Cavalry "Spur Ride," he thought he would find himself on the back of a horse.
"I was reading the [spur ride] history and read that Soldiers used to ride horses, and I'm not too much into riding horses," he said with a smile.
Luckily for Hale, of Jacksonville, Fla., today's cavalry spur ride doesn't involve horses at all.
He and more than 20 other Soldiers throughout the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, competed Dec. 3 and 4, at Fort Hood, for the privilege of wearing the silver, cavalry spurs.
It was the battalion's leadership team of Lt. Col. Gerald Boston and Command Sgt. Maj. Henry Griffith Sr., who wanted to make sure in their first-ever spur ride as cavalrymen, that it would be done by their leadership, said 1st Sgt. Matthew Lord, Co. B's top enlisted Soldier of Chicago.
From ranks of specialist who were promotable, to a field-grade officer, the spur candidates were the test bed of how the newest "Garryowen" troopers would conduct their own, specific rite of passage.
Company B, put up the most candidates through the test. As an infantry-heavy company, many of its Soldiers have only known about their own, Expert Infantryman's Badge competition.
"As Infantryman, we'd see the Armor guys wearing [spurs], but I really didn't know too much about them," confessed Staff Sgt. Nick Crawford, a Co. B platoon sergeant from Asheville, N.C. "Then, we got combat spurs for our deployment."
On their first Friday after the spur ceremony Dec. 7, the one day of the week the 1st Cav. Div. designates its Soldier to wear both the Stetson and spurs, Crawford donned his newly, earned silver spurs as a model for his Soldiers.
"We, as the leadership, went through the spur ride first," Crawford said. "Next year, we are going to have another one for our Soldier, and we'll serve as the committee."
Although the battalion's colors have been in the cav., most of its members were former members of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanize), before their deployment to Iraq in 2008.
Although many of the candidates said the spur ride was a little foreign to them as infantryman, many of the skills testing were the same. Yet, there were two events during the spur ride that were ... "challenging."
"When I was in the 101st [Airborne Division], we'd march about 12 miles every week," Crawford said. "This one ... there were hills; they picked a tough route. It really broke a lot of us off."
And for Hale, who is 46 years old, but claims he is still in top, physical condition, the physical training portion of the spur ride was his Achilles' heel, although originally, he said he thought it would be a "joke." Through it, the former Marine said he learned a lot about the unit's history, lineage and traditions. "I'm very proud of earning my spurs," he said. "People didn't expect a 46-year-old man to do it."
"It was 40 minutes to an hour straight of nonstop ... After carrying a 145-pound dummy for about 100 meters, my legs felt like jelly," Hale said. "It was really intense; it tested every muscle from head to toe."