La. Guard’s Cavalry scouts earn silver spurs

By Sgt. Noshoba Davis, 256th Public Affairs Representative

Louisiana National Guard's Spc. Dylan Cassel with A Troop, 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team disassembles a .50-caliber machine gun during the annual Spur Ride at Camp Minden in Minden, Louisiana, Dec. 10, 2016. Soldiers drew two weapons from a box that they would have to reassemble and perform a functions check on those weapons in an allotted amount of time. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Noshoba Davis)

MINDEN, La. – The Louisiana National Guard’s 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment awarded silver spurs to 10 Soldiers during its annual Spur Ride at Camp Minden in Minden, Dec. 6, 2016.

The Spur Ride is a combination of training exercise and history lesson for the Soldiers to test their knowledge of scout reconnaissance skills. A total of 14 Soldiers attempted the event.

Historically, Cavalrymen had to prove their ability to handle their horse and saber to earn their spurs. The tradition of awarding gilt spurs, rooted in knighthood, signifies entry into the ranks and fraternity of the mounted warrior. Today, Soldiers may earn two different types of spurs; gold spurs are earned in combat and silver spurs are earned outside of war by participating in a Spur Ride.

“It’s a tradition that we use, that’s combat proven, to establish comradery in the corps and to give our Troopers a sense of belonging,” said Command Sgt. Maj. William Edwards, senior enlisted advisor for the 2-108th.

The Soldiers had to march 12 miles while carrying a 35-pound ruck sack and a weapon. They were required to complete certain tasks given to them at different stations, all under a time limit.

Soldiers were challenged at 10 stations on the history of the Cavalry, reassembling and performing functions checks on various weapons, evaluating and treating a simulated casualty under stress, deploying a hand grenade and more. The challenge was designed by the Spur Council, consisting of senior spur holders and members of the previous spur class.

“This year’s format will most likely be the format moving forward as it was successful and provided several graded stages of the Ride,” said Master Sgt. Timothy McKnight. “The [Troopers] inventoried everything they had to carry and received penalty time for any missing items. Some, because of missing items, started with a significant time penalty and had to work extremely hard to make their time limit.”

The Troopers were inducted into the “Order of the Spur” Saturday evening, while being awarded a certificate and set of spurs that can be worn through their career. The 2-108th now has 172 active spur holders.

“Although I’m an infantry officer, I love the idea of being in the Cavalry. Now that I have my silver spurs, I feel more a part of the squadron,” said 1st Lt. Joseph Jackson with C Troop, 2-108th. “I’ve noticed from day one that being a part of the 2-108th means you are a family, and the squadron treats everyone as Cavalry Troopers regardless of their branch. This makes me feel accepted and honored to be a part of this Cavalry family.”

“It is outstanding training that pushes Scouts to their limits. The benefit is pride,” said McKnight. “They have proven their physical and mental strength, as well as their proficiency in scout related tasks. They walk with those that have helped to build this Squadron into what it is today, and they are proud to earn their spurs!”

Louisiana National Guardsman 1st Lt. Joseph Jackson, of C Troop, 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team keeps a steady pace while trying to finish a 12 mile ruck march during the first stage of the annual Spur Ride at Camp Minden in Minden, Louisiana, Dec. 10, 2016. Jackson finsihed the ruck march first with a record time of three hours and nine minutes. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Noshoba Davis)

The 2-108th used the Spur Ride to decide which squads will compete at the National Guard Bureau’s competition at Fort Benning in Georgia early this spring. The winners move on to compete against squads from across the Army in the 2017 Gainey Cup in May.

“The Gainey Cup is like the Best Tanker competition or the Best Warrior Competition, but it’s for Scout squadrons. We are hoping to send some of our guys, and show that we are the best of the best; that the Louisiana National Guard has the best scouts,” said Lt. Col. Cameron Magee, commander of the 2-108th.

The Gainey Cup is named for retired Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, who was the first senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Cavalry Scout Teams come from across the Army and the National Guard to compete in the five day competition. The Gainey Cup physically and mentally challenges all Troopers by testing their knowledge, tactical competence and fortitude in fundamentals of reconnaissance and security operations.

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