News: 'Ironhorse' Soldiers earn their spurs
By Sgt. Jessica Reaves
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — As the sun set and rain pelted down, Soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division "rucked up" for an age-old tradition of earning their Silver Spurs.
The Soldiers spent the night traversing across Camp Taji; trudging through the sludge, trying to stay awake and motivated while successfully completing a variety of basic combat tasks, before passing an interview with the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion commander, Col. Maria Zumwalt.
"The hardest part of the Spur Ride was moving under direct fire, or responding to fire. It was murder trying to move tires through the inches of thick mud and low-crawl under obstacles with concertina wire," said Brookhaven, Miss. native, Sgt. Raymond Nelson, a retransmission team chief assigned to 1st BSTB. "It was the worst!"
"It was so cold when the rain started," said Sacramento, Calif., native, Pfc. Krystal Curl, a human resources clerk assigned to 1st BSTB. "We were covered in mud."
Taking partnership to another level, Iraqi Soldiers from the Field Engineering Regiment for the 11th IA Division, also participated in this challenging, character building event that inducts Soldiers with the drive into the elite group of Silver Spur holders.
"The Iraqi army soldiers are well-trained. They really know what they're doing," said Albert Lea, Minn. native, Spc. Matthew Carlson, radio retransmission operator assigned to 1st BSTB.
"They were a huge addition to our team," agreed Champaign, Ill., native, Pfc. Joel Rosenbeck, a line of sight operator assigned to 1st BSTB.
All the participants, working together as a team, kept each other motivated through all the stations and challenges. The Soldiers toiled through the various arduous events for nineteen hours, making the reward even sweeter in the end.
After fighting through the weather, the "Shave tails" or new spur candidates proved they were worthy of being inducted into the order of the Silver Spur. Drenched and caked with mud, with a smile of victory, the Soldiers assumed the position as their sponsors rewarded them by placing silver spurs on the heels of their muddied boots.
"It was definitely challenging and difficult, but looking back on it now it was definitely worth it," proudly stated Lancaster, Pa., native, Spc. Sean Bonifas, a radio transmitter operator for 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div.