By Mrs. Jennifer Hartwig (3rd ID)March 25, 2010
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Camaraderie.
It's a word that is often thrown around, sometimes meaning little more than good-natured amiability. Its true meaning is something deeper, a bond between people that gives them strength. At no time is this camaraderie more important than during deployments. Not just for our Soldiers overseas but for those back home, who are trying to keep their lives together while their loved ones are in harm's way.
On March 22, the 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, held an event intended to bring spouses together while their Soldiers are deployed: their first 5/7 Cav. spouse's Spur Ride
"This was an opportunity for spouses to get together and get a taste of what their husbands do," said Capt. Noa Walker, 5/7 Cav. rear detachment commander. "While their husbands are gone, we need to help build their camaraderie."
There's that word again.
The history of the Spurs goes back to the horse cavalry. Cavalrymen had to earn their spurs, and having done so, they were considered experienced riders. A trooper without spurs was a "Shave Tail" - he rode a horse with a shaved tail, a designated sign to all that the rider was a "green" cavalryman and the horse with a shaved tail was given extra space, since its rider was marked as an amateur. Soldiers underwent extensive training to earn their spurs. That tradition continues today, though in a shorter, two-to-three day test for Soldiers, according to Capt. Walker.
"It feels really good that we could come together and see what our husbands go through, day-to-day," said Genell Mazzacapo, wife of Staff Sgt. Michael Mazzacapo, who is deployed. "I think he's going to be really proud of me [for earning my spurs]."
To give the spouses that taste, the 5/7 Cav. rear detachment put the 20 brave wives through four tests, beginning with a written exam on the history of the cavalry and the unit. They then were tested in a weapons simulator, then a driving simulator. Finally, they headed down GA 119 to the leadership reaction course. There, the spouses negotiated six stations meant to test their leadership and teamwork skills. For the final task, they had to low-crawl through gooey mud to earn their spurs.
"It was cold and wet," said Mazzacapo, laughing. "But it was my favorite event."
Throughout the day as they earned their spurs, the women laughed together, worked together, and confronted challenge together, forming the kind of bond that develops between those going through similar situations.
"I take away from this camaraderie with the other spouses, who sometimes you've only seen at meetings," said Maggie Walker, wife of the 5/7 Cav. rear detachment commander. "It gave us the chance to get together, work together, and to laugh a lot. . . I think events like this need to happen more. It really boosts the morale [of the spouses], especially with so many husbands deployed, it brings us together."
In the end, the Spur Ride was about getting spouses together as a team during a time of deployment, and having them complete a task that made them feel closer to their deployed Soldiers.
"We're one big Family," said Capt. Walker. "Not only our deployed Soldiers and our experienced Soldiers; now our spouses have their spurs too. Together, everyone is going to make it through this deployment, and beyond."