‘Longknife’ Troopers earn spurs during unit’s rite of passage
Troopers with the 5th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt. stand ready to march forward and receive their spurs atop a horse from the CGMCG during the squadron’s Spur Ride ceremony Aug. 16 at Fort Riley. Squadron leaders enlisted the aid of the CGMCG to highlight the historic importance of earning one’s spurs in the cavalry. Photo by: Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire, 2ND ABCT.
Story by: Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire
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On Aug. 16, surrounded by comrades and Family members, 146 troopers with the 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division earned their spurs, becoming official cavalrymen in the storied tradition of their branch.
"Back in the old days, when a squadron would get new troopers, they had to be certified to ride, so they went through a series of tests and maneuvers … to show that they could ride their mounts," said Command Sgt. Maj. Toney Smith, senior noncommissioned officer, 5th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt. "That's kind of what we do when we do the spur ride."
The troopers, those who were left standing out of the 191 who began the spur ride, had to endure a weeklong gauntlet of individual and group tasks. Even before heading out to the field, the troopers had to go through a rigorous inspection of their equipment.
"(Prior spur holders) were pretty much messing with us, asking us to say the creeds, checking on learning," said Spc. Benjamin Grim, 5th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt. "They asked a lot of questions, we had to do a lot of push-ups, and it was a very hot day."
After the inspection, troopers were challenged mentally with a test about the history of the 4th Cavalry Regiment, which included some questions that stumped most of those present.
"No one knew the actual name of the (squadron) conference room," Grim said, laughing.
The next day, troopers went out to Fort Riley's training areas in eight teams and were tasked with marching across rough terrain for long distances to find particular points on the map.
"Probably the toughest part of the week was moving through that terrain – it was so thick, and the teams were so far apart from each other, that to make it on time, we had to go through rough terrain and couldn't take paths or roads," Grim said. "On top of that, we were trying to motivate the people on our team to continue on."
Helping their peers and understanding the importance of being part of a team was a crucial part of what the troopers were meant to learn during the exercise.
"This is one of the opportunities where they get to understand that their contribution as a teammate matters, and every ounce of respect they enjoy is because they're working together," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Powell, commander, 5th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt., prior to the spur award ceremony.
For the second consecutive year, given the historical legacy of the cavalry and its role at Fort Riley, Powell and Smith arranged for the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard to play a role in the spur ceremony, which also was attended by friends and Family members.
Troopers mounted a horse from the color guard, while their sponsors – troopers who already earned their spurs – placed spurs on the newly initiated trooper's boots. The trooper then dismounted, a full-fledged cavalryman.
"I think it's of huge importance to earn your spurs," Grim said. "Earning your spurs is something you should want to do in the cavalry – it's a long, passed-down tradition, and you should be proud and always strive to have your spurs."