JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The distinctive Stetson and spurs have been worn by cavalry units since the American Civil War. That tradition continues with today’s cavalrymen, but they are not ever just issued these items, they must earn them.
Pfc. William Medina, combat medic, 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, is attempting to be one of those soldiers to earn his spurs during his squadron spur ride, Feb 14.
“The spur ride is a tradition, and it is kind of like being a part of history. For me, it is about being part of the unit. As line medics, we are attached to the unit, you are kind of on the outside looking in,” said Medina. “By taking part in something important like this, it allows you to build camaraderie and they will respect you more.”
For the Pasadena, Calif., native, being a soldier is just a part of family history, but earning his spurs allows him to stand apart from the rest of his family.
“I have family members who have been in the military as well. My dad was a ‘Joe,’ my grandfather was a ‘Joe,’ I joined the Army to make a difference and I wanted to save people,” he said. “The whole aspect of tradition is what entices me most to do this.”
Although spur ride events are kept secret from those who will be taking part, Medina knows there are some basic skills that he will need to pass the test.
“I am ready for them to bring whatever challenges they have and I am sure they have a lot of tricks up their sleeves for us, but I think it is going to be fun,” said the medic. “I know there is going to be a lot of ruck marching and I am ready for that.”
Despite being confident that he will accomplish all the required tasks, he still has some nervousness about not knowing what is coming.
“There is going to be some physical stuff that, obviously, the scouts are going to have the upper hand over myself as a medic,” he said. “They are combat guys that are trained in their jobs and they do it well. Hopefully, I will be able to keep up with them and carry on but mentally, I’m prepared and I have a ‘don’t quit’ attitude.”
This junior soldier views the spur ride as a personal and professional goal that will give him credibility for the rest of his career.
“I like to set goals for myself and know that something didn’t beat me down,” said Medina. “When you earn your spurs, you can go to any cavalry unit and they know you handled the challenge. It is kind of a brotherhood and I think they will have more respect for me.”
Medina also offers up a challenge to those who see the spur ride as something out of their reach.
“I would tell anyone to try it. The worse that can happen is you may not complete it, but at least you can say you gave it a try,” said Medina.
At the end of the day Medina’s only hope is that he is able to rise above the challenge placed in front of him and that he will be handed the silver spurs he has earned.