By Staff Sgt. Noshoba Davis, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
PINEVILLE, La.– Forty Troopers from the Louisiana National Guard’s 2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team competed in the unit’s annual spur ride at Camp Minden in Minden, Louisiana, to earn their silver spurs on Aug.12.
“The spur ride is multifaceted in its importance to the unit. Not only is it one of the finest traditions among the cavalry, but it also serves to provide a selection process meant to recognize extraordinary Troopers, as well as to inspire Troopers to be extraordinary,” said 1st Lt. Benjamin Berroteran, the officer in charge of the spur ride and executive officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2-108th.
While the spur ride is typically an annual event for the unit, this year’s spur ride was the first conducted since the 2-108th returned from their deployment in 2021. “This spur ride allowed the 2-108th CAV to level the foundation for all Troopers to be recognized and bonded with fellow Troopers regardless of where they were in 2021,” said Berroteran.
“Spur rides are performed in order to test Cavalrymen on their knowledge of scout tasks, grit in the face of physical and mental adversity and the perseverance required to see a mission through. By earning silver spurs, Troopers are acknowledged as experts in their craft and cavalry tradition,” said Berroteran.
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, Troopers may earn two different types of spurs; gold spurs are earned in combat, and silver spurs are earned outside of war by completing a spur ride.
“The shine of the spurs and the clang of the rowels in a drill hall is known to draw the attention of any cavalryman,” said Berroteran. “Furthermore, a successful spur ride incites the recognition and celebration of new spur holders, which inspires Troopers young and old to set their sights on a new goal.”
Troopers must serve at least one year of drilling with the unit, attend at least one annual training period with their squadron, pass the Army Combat Fitness Test, meet the Army standards for height and weight, be in good standing with the unit and obtain a sponsor before they can attempt a spur ride.
Candidates arrived on the night before the spur ride to meet the cadre. After a long night of little sleep, candidates were dropped off at their starting points to begin their land navigation course. Each route included grids for a start and end point with five points to record. Of the 40 candidates, 13 candidates completed the course in the allotted time to move onto the Army Warrior Tasks stations.
“The biggest challenge was definitely motivation. You’re out there in less than favorable conditions which can cause your morale to fall,” said Haughton, Louisiana, native Spc. Kameron Smith with B Troop, 2-108th. “You just have to keep positive knowing that there is a finish line, and you’re going to reach it sooner or later.”
Candidates had six hours to complete all AWT stations. The stations included disassembly, reassembly and functions checks of individual and crew-served weapons, hand and arm signals, assembling and performing voice communications and MEDEVAC requests on an encrypted Advanced System Improvement Program radio, tactical combat casualty care, a surprise event, as well as a written test on heraldry, warrior ethos and a verbatim writing of Fiddler’s Green.
Cadre must meet the same criteria as the candidates, as well as be a member in good standing with the Order of the Spur. Berroteranexplained that the selected cadre are notoriously intense, but well-respected members of the unit.
In addition to testing the candidates on their basic warrior tasks, the spur ride highlights the importance of esprit de corps within the unit. “The true nature of the spur ride does not lie in receiving spurs. Instead, the benefit comes with the lessons learned throughout the ride,” said Berroteran. “The spurs are important to us all, but the knowledge gained, the respect earned, and the bonds created through the course of the event are the takeaway.”
All candidates, cadre and current spur holders joined the 13 candidates who successfully completed the spur ride for dinner and presentation of their spurs at the Spur Banquet.
“Candidates are circled by cadre from their troop as a form of embrace,” said Berroteran. “The brother and sister spur holders are waiting, with great intensity and emotion, to welcome a candidate to the other side as they rise from the ground with spurs affixed to their boots.”
For some candidates, earning their spurs gave them a sense of pride and motivation. “It definitely motivates me to do more after seeing and realizing that I can accomplish something like this that’s very tough, and few people succeed on,” said Smith.
Lt. Col. Joseph Carey, Squadron Commander of 2-108th, extended his congratulations. “I am proud of the Troopers that earned their spurs during this spur ride. They persevered through months of training and showed up ready for the ‘ride’,” said Carey. “I am proud of those that fell short too, most of whom have already committed to the next one. This is not a ‘trophy for everyone event’ and I know that those troopers will make it next time. SOUND THE CHARGE!”