FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq - Soldiers from the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division have recently been taking part in one of the cavalry's oldest traditions: receiving spurs for service in combat.
Over the last week of November, each of "Gamblers" four companies has held separate ceremony during which their Soldiers received combat spurs. For a majority of the battalion's Soldiers, this has been their first deployment with the First Team and the first set of spurs they have earned.
"As far as I know, it's a rite of passage and an accomplishment," said Spc. Jadon Cagle, a medic with the battalion commander's personal security detail, who received his gold combat spurs Nov. 27. "It means we've accomplished nearly 15 long months here, and it's a long-standing tradition. I'm proud to have received mine, as well."
The act of awarding spurs to Soldiers is a tradition unique to cavalry units and dates back to the beginnings of the cavalry.
When new troopers first arrived to a cavalry unit they were assigned a horse with a shaved tail and during mounted formations the shaved tail horses were given extra space to account for their rider's inexperience.
New troopers were not allowed to wear spurs because the combination of the inexperience on horseback and the use of the spurs was seen as a recipe for trouble. Over time, though, as the trooper proved his proficiency with both his horse and saber, he was awarded his spurs.
Today's troopers can be awarded two types of spurs. Silver spurs are awarded for general military proficiency, which is usually demonstrated by the Soldier in a series of events known as a 'Spur Ride.' Gold spurs are earned after a cavalry Soldier proves his or herself in combat, and are usually awarded toward the end of a cavalry unit's deployment.
"You feel like you're officially part of the Cav. now," said Spc. Brittany Greene, an automations specialist with Headquarters Company after receiving her spurs. "The 15th is the first unit I've been in, so everything I know about the Army is about being in the 1st Cav., and it's a good feeling to get your spurs. You feel like you're getting that welcome in. You feel like you can wear your Stetson now with pride, because you can wear your spurs with them.'"