By Sgt. Jon Heinrich, 1st Brigade Combat Public Affairs, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)November 19, 2011
FORT CAMPBELL, KY, Nov. 17, 2011--With the dark of the night, a chill in the air and rain preparing to pour, Bandits still proved themselves to be a tough squadron capable of any task even in the worst weather conditions.
Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, conducted their Spur Ride Nov. 9 at different locations around post.
The Spur Ride is an event in which cavalry Soldiers complete a set of tasks meant to test their physical and mental endurance in order to earn the right to wear silver spurs and Stetsons.
Sergeant Maj. Patrick J. Frankenberg, the squadron's operations sergeant major, said cavalry has taken many different transformations over the years, but that the mission is still the same whether on a horse or in a vehicle; troops will always train to accomplish that mission.
"It's extremely important," said Frankenberg. "Training is that muscle memory."
The 208 candidates participating in the Spur Ride were divided into six-man teams with a total of 36 teams.
The events the troopers had to complete involved a 20-mile ruck march, land navigation, creating a range card for the M240B light machine gun, performing first-aid on a casualty, securing a Humvee with a sling load, competing using pugil sticks, conducting team movement drills and stress shooting.
The candidates began the Ride outside their squadron headquarters with a formation at 4 a.m. After being assigned to their respective teams, they dumped their assault packs and conducted an inventory of all their gear.
The teams with the most number of soldiers missing items off the packing list were given a metal folding chair to carry with them for the whole event.
After they completed their inventories, the Soldiers sounded of with the Warrior Ethos, followed by singing "Screaming Eagles" and the "The Army Goes Rolling Along".
After receiving a safety briefing, the teams began their march with two minute intervals between each team.
The teams marched from their squadron building down Market Garden Road, though Mabry Gate and down to Training Area 13, where they were randomly sent to each of the different tasks set up within the area.
At the land navigation event, teams were given grid coordinates which they plotted on maps of the post in order to find the locations for each coordinate.
For the sling load event, one Soldier per team was tasked in hooking sling cables to a Humvee while the rest of the team answered questions related to sling load operations. For each wrong answer, the team had to do pushups with their gear on in awkward positions.
When they finished all the events at the training area, the teams then marched over to Range 20 outside Angels Gate here, where they conducted movement drills from the entrance to the range over to the firing line.
Once there they performed a stress shoot by standing in a row doing ready-ups into pre-designated targets. When they finished shooting, each team marched back to their squadron building to complete the Spur Ride.
Pvt. Carlos J. Arce, a combat medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Sqdn., 32nd Cav., said for him the hardest event for him was the ruck march because of the combined distance.
"The Spur Ride is a test of strength and endurance," said Arce. "It means I'm worthy of carrying silver spurs."
"Receiving spurs made me feel like I was part of a brotherhood," said Frankenberg. "Part of a band of brothers and sisters. It's a unique event. Not everybody has an opportunity to be in a squadron. It was a proud moment for myself."
mander of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell.
The complex brings Soldiers, Families and caregivers together in a central location to aid the healing process, and shows the advances the Army is making to care for Soldiers affected by 10 years of constant war.
"It represents an evolution in the understanding of how to take care of wounded warriors," explained Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense (health affairs) and TRICARE Management Activity director.
The facility places more emphasis on individualized care, as well as making sure the Soldier's Family is taken care of during the recovery process.
"[This facility] delivers the right type of care to those who have sacrificed so much in the defense of this nation," Woodson said.
Funded by the American Relief and Recovery Act, the complex includes rooms for 206 Soldiers. In addition to state-of-the-art barracks complete with kitchens, handicap accessible bathrooms and televisions, it features an outdoor wheelchair obstacle course and a healing garden.
"… We're delivering on a promise to the American people and that is we will do everything possible to care for and return to full functional capability the men and women who sacrificed for this nation," Woodson said. "We're changing how we're delivering care, and we're turning toward a real focus on the patient and the Family that we need to have."
Assistant Surgeon General of Warrior Care and Transition Brig. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, also commander of the Warrior Transition Command, hopes Soldiers will realize the advantages of this battalion and facility.
"I think the biggest benefit is the one-stop aspect of it, where Soldiers can walk out of their barracks, if they need resources," he said. "And the Family support, if their wife needs a babysitter … they can do that, and then get their healing and walk a few meters across the street to the hospital. So it's the idea of having all these resources and facilities co-located at one place."
Sergeant Joshua Medlin helped led tours of the new facility. Medlin came to the WTB after being shot in the face during his deployment to Afghanistan.
"I had a pretty good support system when I got back home," said the married father. "I came straight to the WTU, started undergoing treatment, small surgeries, checkups … Everything here's really been great, actually. Everything I've done has been right here on Campbell."
The barracks and headquarters are not just more accessible to the Soldiers living and working there, which are complete with elevators and ADA-compliant rooms, hallways and more. The new one-stop setup allows better communication with Soldiers and their officers, as well as people who are going through similar situations.
"They're a lot more accessible for us," Medlin said. "I think it helps them out a lot … a lot of them are roommates together. That helps with the healing process. We've got several guys that really don't want to talk to anybody except for the one or two friends they've made here in the wounded warrior battalion. It helps a lot."
This helps Soldiers focus on the positive as they transition to the next phase of life, whether on or off post.
"Life isn't going to stop just because you've been through something that sucks or through a traumatic experience," Medlin said. "You may have been through a bad situation or something that 99 percent of America will never experience, but you've got to keep on going because life doesn't stop there."
The training Fort Campbell is doing is looked highly upon by the rest of the Army and military. Personnel from the Army Surgeon General's Office have come to visit and see this capstone program in action. Doctors and therapists from other installations come to see the program and sometimes patients from other posts are even sent here to take part in the week long program.
"The TBI clinic has really been on the cutting edge of a lot of the treatment aspects," said Cole. "It's been really beneficial and actually Fort Campbell is the only, really the only place that has a program to this magnitude."
The TBI Clinic has also put together a video assessment program that is being sent to help troops in Afghanistan. They also conduct video-teleconferences with doctors and therapists around the world.
As the military liaison, Cole enjoys seeing the Soldiers come through the TBI Clinic and make it to this point. He has been deployed three times and says it is good to see this aspect of what happens to a Soldier who is injured.
"You see people injured and you don't always know what happens after they come home, after long-term care," said Cole. "It's been nice for me to see this end of the spectrum, how they went from theater to now how they are rehabilitating. These guys aren't just being left on the battlefield. They do have long-term treatment to really identify and treat the injuries."