Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo

    Spur ride upholds traditions, builds esprit de corps

    1-124 Cavalry Spur Ride 2014

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Atkinson | First Lt. Joshua Flynn, 1-124th Cavalry Squadron chaplain, helps Pfc. Johnathan Alba,...... read more read more

    FORT HOOD, Texas - For many people, the words “cavalry trooper” conjure up a John Wayne-type riding a rugged and nimble horse across a waving sea of prairie grass, the crossed sabers on his traditionally black Stetson shining in the sun. The modern cavalry trooper of 1-124th Cavalry Squadron may have traded in his mount for an “iron horse,” but the pride in the crossed sabers and a long and storied heritage remain in the tradition of the spur ride.

    “The history of the spur ride is part of the history of the entire U.S. Cavalry,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Flood, squadron commander. When new troopers would arrive at their assigned frontier fort, they were usually unskilled in horsemanship, and it fell upon each fort to train their new troopers. These “spur-less” troopers were assigned horses with shaved tails, to set them apart from experienced troopers.

    “After the 'shavetails' were able to demonstrate skill in horsemanship, marksmanship and saber, they would then be allowed to wear spurs,” said Flood. “It was like our 'crawl, walk, run’ phases of training.”

    There are multiple parts to the modern spur ride, each emphasizing skills essential to a “Cav” trooper. Parts of the ride are pulled from history, including a written test on the history of the Cavalry, the history of the individual unit and horsemanship. Modern battlefield skills such as land navigation, squad movement techniques, and first aid skills are also tested.

    While active-duty units may have up to a week to complete all the parts of the spur ride, these Texas citizen-soldiers must push themselves to the limit to complete all the stations in two and half days.

    “We're still a mounted unit,” said Flood. “Our horses may be Humvees or Bradleys or Strykers, but new troopers still have to demonstrate proficiency in basic soldier tasks.”

    The 1-124th has a unique history, even among Cavalry units. When most other mounted units were switching to vehicles to take the attack to the enemy, men from this Texas unit were taking to the China-Burma-India theater, in World World II, tackling the impassable weather and terrain with mules. As part of the MARS Task Force, the 124th fought many pitched battles with the Japanese deep in enemy territory around the Burma Road.

    One of the most important stations during the spur ride is known as “Knight's Hill.” The only Medal of Honor awarded for action in the CBI theater was a trooper from F Troop, 1st Lt. Jack Knight. Knight, blinded by a grenade, but still carrying several grenades himself, moved toward the sound of battle, and while coming to the aid of his brother, 1st Sgt. Curtis Knight, destroyed two enemy pillboxes before being mortally wounded.

    The weekend's spur ride started with 86 candidates, and ended with somewhere around 60. Injuries and problems with accomplishing the tasks can knock spur candidates out, although they must finish the training with the rest of their troop.

    “The spur ride builds esprit de corps,” said Flood. “It's part of the unit identity and the cohesion of the Cav team. Although there might be some complaining right now, tomorrow morning, when they get their spurs, it becomes bragging rights that set them apart, from other soldiers in and out of the squadron.”

    “They have a story they'll remember for the rest of their lives,” said Master Sgt. Jason D. Featherston 1st sergeant of A Troop. “I think this is the first time a squad has run Knight's Hill twice ... they're never going to forget that.”



    Date Taken: 01.12.2014
    Date Posted: 01.14.2014 15:30
    Story ID: 119144
    Location: WACO, TX, US 
    Hometown: FORT WORTH, TX, US
    Hometown: WACO, TX, US

    Web Views: 248
    Downloads: 1