News: Fort Knox cavalry families embrace tradition
Story by Sgt. Thomas Duval
FORT KNOX, Ky. - With many of their moms, dads and significant others deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the spouses and the children of the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment have stepped up to carry on the time-honored traditions of the U.S. cavalry.
On Friday morning, a formation of the Fort Knox’s finest cavalrymen - under the age of 10 and shorter than 4-feet tall - formed up on Brooks Field, here, for a children’s Spur Ride Challenge, hosted by the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment.
For true cavalrymen, the "Spur Ride" is an Army tradition that dates back more than 200 years and acts as a rite of passage for soldiers to be inducted into the Order of the Spur.
“It’s a cavalry tradition that we bring in the soldiers and go through a rite of passage into true scout hood,” said Bernard Gardner, rear operations commander, 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment.
Traditionally, the event is a grueling test of a cavalryman’s physical and mental fortitude that offers little sleep while testing the soldier's ability to conquer challenges like ruck marches and mass casualty situations.
The aspiring junior cavalrymen went through less grueling but events similar to those of their parents.
“We wanted to show the kids that the Army isn’t all about long hours and working long days but to see the other aspects like the support for families and to show them that we are not just soldiers but we are actually mothers, fathers, daughters and sons as well,” said Gardner.
Equipped with a miniature ruck sack, filled with essentials like water, plastic binoculars and sun block, more than 50 children, alongside their parents, conquered six separate stations which included face painting, first aid, ruck march, communication, an obstacle course and a weapons range with water guns.
“The kids are having a great time today,” said Judi Zernickow, wife of 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment commander Lt. Col. Michael Zernickow.
Zernickow’s observation was supported as the kids smiled and laughed their way through each event.
The event put an emphasis on bringing the squadron families together and during the communication portion even offered the families a unique opportunity to communicate with their deployed loved ones by recording a short video that would be sent to the soldiers.
“Events like these are very important while the soldiers are deployed … it’s really important to keep the kids involved,” said Zernickow.
“Strong families equal strong soldiers,” Gardner added.
At the end of the event, each child, who participated, received a certificate and became honorary members of the "Order of the Spur."