JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Spouses and children of soldiers assigned to 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division turned out in strength for a day of diverse planned activities as part of a Family Spur Ride held here Aug. 30.
Serving as a rite of passage, the tradition of “earning one’s spurs” reaches back to the beginnings of cavalry in the United States Army. New troopers were awarded their spurs only when they proved their ability to perform with horse and saber.
“Today’s event is for the families to have fun, to give them a little bit of an idea as to what their soldiers do and welcome them to the team,” said 1st Lt. Mariano Cannone, the ‘Black Hawk’ squadron’s assistant operations officer and officer in charge for the event.
A modern day Spur Ride lasts several days and tests troopers physically and mentally in the area of soldier skills and knowledge. Many ‘Black Hawks’ rose to the challenge and were inducted into the Order of the Spur just four weeks ago.
The support of spouses is important to the success of the soldiers. Likewise, a soldier’s support is just as important to the family’s earning of the spurs.
According to Cannone, the day began with participants receiving a convoy briefing after which they embarked Stryker reconnaissance vehicles for transport to Training Area 6.
Here, their abilities were tested against an “obstacle course” consisting of a tug of war, agility run, low crawl, balance beam, sled drag, and timed sprints with emphasis on safety, team encouragement and enjoyment.
The most popular activity with kids young and old proved to be the “Shoothouse,” a training module soldiers use to clear houses, which participants of all ages negotiated with NERF guns in hand. Training, supervision and opposing force were handled by ‘Black Hawk’ soldiers and non-commissioned officers.
Other activities included a class of instruction on recognition of objects in a woodline using optics and proper application of face camouflage paint.
The day concluded with a barbecue and static display of Stryker vehicles and squadron equipment at the unit’s motor pool, where participants received their honorary spur certificates.
“I thought it was great,” said Ashli Shockley, conveying her general impression of the day. Her husband, Spc. Jason Shockley is a new soldier and cavalry scout with the squadron’s Cherokee Troop.
The young couple relaxed at a table with food and drinks, their 16-month old daughter at the center of attention. The highlights for Mrs. Shockley were the kid-friendly atmosphere, the “Shoothouse,” getting to ride on the Strykers and socializing with other members of the unit.
“I really like getting to know all the families,” said Shockley.
“Overall, it’s been good,” she added, referring to her experience at JBLM.
The ‘Black Hawks’ are scheduled to deploy with 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. to Afghanistan late autumn in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.