FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - “It was 19 hours of non-stop physical demand,” said 2nd Lt. Jack Wilson, fires support officer for Troop A, 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, one of 49 soldiers who completed a spur ride on Fort Wainwright, Alaska June 20.
“It was definitely one of the most grueling experiences of my military career.”
Fifty-seven soldiers from 5-1 CAV took part in the ride in an effort to earn their spurs under the Order of the Spur, a tradition that reaches back to the beginning of the cavalry. Earning their spurs identifies cavalry troopers as experts in their profession of arms.
During the event candidates were put through a series of mental and physical tests to evaluate their leadership, technical and tactical proficiency, and ability to operate as part of a team while under high levels of stress and fatigue, in both day and night conditions.
“As new leaders come into the formation, they’re put through a spur ride,” said Lt. Col. Eric Krivda, 5-1 CAV Squadron commander.
Krivda said the spur ride gives new leaders the opportunity to prove they have the military knowledge, ability, drive and determination to succeed on the battlefield.
This year’s ride took place in temperatures 100 degrees higher than what the troopers were working in less than two months ago, contributing to the physical fatigue aspect of the test. Of the 57 candidates who participated in the event, 86 percent successfully completed it.
“The majority of the issue today was the heat,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Ramussen, Troop A, 5-1 CAV senior enlisted leader.
When crossing the one-rope bridge challenge the candidate’s uniforms were visibly wet with sweat and many struggled to get across. When a soldier appeared to be struggling Capt. Tommy Bramanti, Troop A, 5-1 CAV commander, called for those candidates who had already completed the task to help their battle buddy. Bramanti said he told the troopers no part of the ride was an individual event.
“Each team was paired up with someone from a different unit,” said Ramussen. “Regardless of what troop or battalion they were in it just brought them together.”
The events tested skills, but it was more about having heart and dedication while building camaraderie, Capt. Patrick Bracken, 5-1 CAV chaplain, said after earning his spurs.
“We motivated each other and kept driving,” said Wilson, “[One sergeant] was struggling at the end but we got him across the finish line.”
Upon successful completion of the spur ride, new spur holders took part in a spur ceremony where each soldier formally received their spurs and were inducted into the Order of the Spur.