News: ‘Black Dragon’ soldiers earn cavalry spurs in Iraq
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq - Approximately 50 “Black Dragon” soldiers assigned to 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, challenged one another to complete a cavalry “Spur Ride” at Contingency Operating Site Marez, Iraq, Aug. 2-4.
The soldiers tested their mental and physical abilities while participating in the cavalry tradition to earn the privilege of wearing silver spurs and being inducted into the Order of the Spur.
“Even though we’re deployed in Iraq, we’re giving our soldiers a chance to earn their spurs and be a part of this 1st Cavalry Division tradition,” said Master Sgt. Keith Hemingway, battalion operations sergeant and non-commissioned officer in charge of the Spur Ride. “This gives soldiers the opportunity to excel above their peers and be inducted into the Order of the Spur.”
The Order of the Spur is a cavalry tradition within the U.S. Army stemming from the days when horse-mounted cavalry troopers performed their duties during westward U.S. expansion, and in America’s wars, as late as World War I.
Unlike gold spurs, which are awarded upon completion of a deployment to a combat theater with a cavalry unit, silver spurs are awarded to troopers who successfully complete a Spur Ride.
“This is definitely a team-building experience that adds to the overall unit cohesion and camaraderie,” said Hemingway. “It’s somewhat like going to a Soldier of the Month or promotion board.
The soldiers are pushing each other to complete the tasks and perform at their best.”
In order to earn their spurs, the soldiers successfully completed a land navigation, combat lifesaver, automations, communications, and weapons skills test.
In addition to being tested on individual soldiering skills, the Black Dragon troopers adhered to prerequisite standards prior to competing in the Spur Ride. The requirements included scoring above average on an Army physical fitness test, being in accordance with Army regulation height/weight standards and receiving a letter of recommendation from their chain of command.
“These soldiers have, without a doubt, earned the honor of wearing these spurs,” said Lt. Col. Robert Magee, a native of Corsicana, Texas, and commander of Black Dragon Battalion.
The Black Dragon soldiers finished the three-day Spur Ride with an Order of the Spur induction ceremony honoring the participants who successfully completed the challenge.
At the ceremony, Magee and other battalion leaders shook hands with each of the spur inductees and welcomed them into the elite cavalry organization.
“I had fun and gained a lot of knowledge here,” said Spc. Justine McCoy, a chemical specialist assigned to Company G, 5th Battalion, 82nd Fa. Regimentt. “I’m definitely living the legend right now. I got to partake in this event, and prove to myself and my peers that I can do this. I earned my spurs.”