JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Drenched in ice-cold, pouring rain and shivering, Spc. Gilbert Venzor thought he just might break.
After being soaked and muddy for nearly 18 hours, he had to remind himself just how much he wanted his silver spurs.
Venzor and other Soldiers of 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, participated in a Spur Ride March 4-6 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
“Having the spurs is the mark of the cavalryman,” explained Maj. David Fulton, the squadron commander. “That is something that all cavalrymen seek to have.”
When leaders of the squadron got word of 4-2 SBCT’s inactivation, they discussed how they could share the lineage and history of the unit and come together in one last, big event as a culminating exercise, Fulton said.
The Spur Ride was it.
The event stretched over three days and covered basic cavalry skills.
Day one began with a record Army Physical Fitness Test and M4 carbine qualification using the engagement skills trainer, March 4.
On the second day, spur candidates marched out to Training Area 6, here, on foot with 45-pound rucksacks and completed tasks in three different stations.
“You’ll see a combination of dismounted movement over 25 kilometers itself with a 45-pound ruck is challenging in and of itself, but then at each iteration and lane there will be some physically rigorous tasks that they’ll have to accomplish in addition to certifying and validating their individual proficiencies on their tactical tasks,” said Fulton.
The first lane was called the “Survival Lane,” where the candidates performed triage on patients, treated and prevented shock, called for a medical evacuation, and carried a litter patient through waist-deep water.
Trudging through water and the constant rain had a negative impact on most people trying to complete the Spur Ride, including Venzor.
“The weather conditions were the [toughest part],” he said. “I just wasn’t expecting to get that cold outside … I could feel my body getting weaker and weaker throughout the Spur Ride.”
Venzor said to keep him going, he reminded himself that there was and end to the event and made sure his body could keep going.
“Being a medic, I know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia,” he said. “I knew when I had to eat and had to drink water.”
Through the second lane, soldiers assembled an Advanced System Improvement (ASIP) Radio and also had to send up various reports using the radio.
At the final lane, the candidates prepared a range card, pushed a Humvee, assembled and disassembled multiple weapons systems and performed other tasks.
Once each group completed all three lanes, they executed a road march back to the squadron headquarters.
As a capstone for the Spur Ride, the squadron held a “Spur Dinner” March 6 at the McChord Club, here.
Soldiers attended the dinner as the unit commemorated its history and achievements and spur candidates became spur holders themselves.
Venzor admitted he had a good time now that he was finished and receiving his spurs.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “I’m happy to be part of the cavalry regiment.”