By Sgt. Javier S. Amador, 3rd Brigade Combat Team JournalistOctober 17, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Nearly two dozen Soldiers' spouses from 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, completed their first Spouses' Spur Ride earlier this month, earning their spurs after completing a series of physically demanding tasks similar to those earned by cavalry Soldiers Armywide.
According to Maj. Michael Davis, the squadron's executive officer, the Spur Ride is a rite of passage unique to the Army's cavalry community.
"The Spur Ride is a cavalry tradition, and it is done throughout the Army," Davis said. "Primarily, it is conducted for the Soldiers, and it consists of common skills tasks as well as some cavalry tasks to test the Soldiers' knowledge and abilities."
Although the difficulty level for the Spouses' Spur Ride is different from a Soldier's for safety reasons, it is still a rewarding challenge for the spouses who decide to enter.
"What we've done is (modify) it to include the spouses, so that we have a more family-oriented atmosphere, which shows them not only a bit of what their Soldiers do, but it shows them some of the equipment that they use in their daily tasks," Davis said.
To kick off the spur ride on Oct. 3, spouses were divided into teams representing each of the four troops in the squadron. After the initial briefing and safety instruction guidance, spouses proceeded to the first event -- the obstacle course.
The course consisted of a high crawl beneath low-lying strands of white-cloth engineering tape, which simulated barbed wire, and a slalom through the arm-dip bars. Spouses then carried rocks weighing approximately 10 to 15 pounds to simulate a combat load through another slalom course in a series of pull-up bars.
Finally, dropping the rocks at the end of the pull-up bar slalom, spouses ran to a ramp and swung from a rope toward the last obstacle, a woven rope cargo net, where they climbed to the top, retrieved a ribbon and climbed back down to complete the course.
After the obstacle course, spouses completed a variety of basic Soldier tasks, such as setting up a traffic control point, administering basic combat casualty care and calling in a medical evacuation helicopter using proper radio procedures.
Spouses then engaged in simulating operations of a vehicle-mounted weapons system onboard a Humvee.
The final event consisted of firing weapons at the post's Engagement Skills Trainer. Spouses used everything from the M-4 carbine and M-9 pistol to crew-served weapons like the M-240 machine gun and M-249 squad automatic weapon.
Since there were four teams of spouses, each team started at a different event to eliminate overcrowding. One team completed the obstacle course while another completed the basic Soldier tasks, and the other teams each completed the EST and the vehicle-mounted weapon station. Teams had to move to each event on foot with the exception of the EST, for which the teams were provided transportation.
Each spouse had a different thought as to what was the easiest or hardest event. Heather Hough, whose husband, Spc. Kristian Hough, is in A Troop, 3-71 Cavalry, shared hers.
"My hardest event, I would say, was the obstacle course," Hough said while proudly displaying a small bruise on her right arm that she received while on the rope swing at the obstacle course. "The easiest event was the traffic control point."
The Spouses Spur Ride ended with a squadron barbecue and an awards ceremony in which participants, after receiving their certificates, were lined up and "commanded" to assume the pushup position, where their sponsors tied on newly earned metal spurs to their shoes.
The squadron leadership and the unit's family readiness group contributed a great deal of planning and preparation to successfully execute the event, and they served as a motivation to get even more spouses to participate next year.
"With all the things going on in the squadron right now, we were challenged resource-wise, but I think we were able to put on a good event, and we are planning another one for next year," Davis said. "We had 23 ladies get their spurs this time and with word of mouth, I think we'll get more spouses to join in."