BAQOUBA, Iraq (Nov. 3, 2007) -- Soldiers from both the 215th Brigade Support Battalion and 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd "Grey Wolf" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, celebrated the close end of their deployment in support Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08, with the honorary spur ceremony, an old Cavalry tradition, Nov. 2 and 3.

The Soldiers piled into Salie Gym on Forward Operating Base Warhorse, outside Baqouba, Iraq, for the ceremony where they received their gold combat spurs, spur certificates and end-of-tour awards.

"Every Cavalry unit offers its Soldiers the opportunity to earn their spurs," Lt. Col. Ronald Kirklin, commander of 215th BSB, said to his Soldiers during the ceremony. "They can be awarded to Soldiers serving in a combat zone or in peacetime to Soldiers who participate in a 'Spur Ride.'

"Many of you have already earned your gold spurs from combat before, and now the rest of you have joined the distinct group today," he said.

"Throughout history, Cavalry units have readily been identified by their Stetson and spurs," Kirklin continued. "They have become a reminder of the Cavalry's glorious past and tend to set apart the Cavalry trooper from his more traditional brother.

"The spurs evolved into a source of distinction, to recognize the best of the Cavalry, and you ride among the best," he said. "I've had other units here come and ask me who they could get the spurs. I told them, it's not that easy, you have to earn them. You earned them today and over the past 14 months."

"The right to wear the spurs is a privilege," added Col. David Sutherland, commander of 3rd BCT. "Tradition, honor, courage on the battlefield is what gives us our spurs.

"You all have earned you spurs, you all understand the saying, 'No task to tough,'" he continued. "Hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq owe their lives to the Soldiers standing in front of me."

As the Soldiers accepted their awards, Sutherland made his way through the ranks of Soldiers, personally thanking each and every one of them for their service.

"For the rest of your lives, when others talk to you about your experiences in the war, you can tell them stories of the truth of your honor and your privilege to serve with the people surrounding you," said Sutherland to the elated crowd. "That instant family, that family you earned your spurs with, that family who you felt the sting of battle. You enabled, you allowed, you encouraged and you produced.

"This province has gone from the most dangerous province in the world, according to CNN in February, to the most changed, most secure province in Iraq, because of your ability to support, to execute and to coordinate - those things throughout history that American Soldiers have always done, what U.S. Cavalrymen have done," he said.

"What a privilege, what an honor to have served with you Soldiers," Sutherland concluded.

As the award ceremony came to an end, Kirklin left the Soldier with a few last thoughts and thanks.

"Many of you... will leave here with gold spurs, walking a lot taller, your shoulders square, and bragging about how you earned them," he said. "You are now a part of an extended family and it is a privilege to have served with you. You represent the best of the best and embody all that have been, is and will be great in the future of the United States Cavalry."

"I am proud to serve and ride by you side," Kirklin concluded.