Intense training spurs team to unite, succeed
RODRIGUEZ RANGE, South Korea — Fatigued from 36 hours of scenarios and skills testing, a team from the 2nd Infantry Division’s 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry makes it to the final lane.
Terrorists are captured, but not before the team suffers casualties.
With the enemy dug in below, 2nd Lt. Kevin Beasley must call for fire and evacuate his small team.
A supervising captain wearing a broad-brimmed, black Stetson hat watches the scene unfold. His hat, along with the silver spur rods attached to his boots, symbolizes what each of these soldiers wants: to complete the “Spur Ride,” a time-honored tradition among Army cavalry troops.
“You’ve got five minutes to get off this OP because those fires are coming now,” the captain shouts.
“What about the dead?” Beasley asks.
“You make that decision,” his captain responds.
The final lane proves no easier than any other; the team hauls an injured soldier down a steep hill. As usual, it’s not the little guy in the litter.
Spur Ride qualifications vary among each cavalry unit. The 4-7 command prefers to make it more of a training event, said operations officer Maj. Jeffrey Erron.
“A lot of people have a wrong impression about it,” Erron said. “We don’t haze or anything. It’s already physically challenging.”
Soldiers at Rodriguez Range hiked somewhere from 20 to 30 miles up hills and through valleys on the way to their skills tests. They were sometimes greeted with push-ups or other exercises before the tests began.
All soldiers who completed the Spur Ride received their spurs and Stetson. Hours after finishing, soldiers already were groggily reminiscing about the tough times.
“I feel like I could just hit the ground and never wake up again,” said Sgt. Jaime Rodriguez. “It’s an experience like never before. I never thought I could go 36 hours straight, living on MREs while humping 20 miles day and night, nonstop.”
To qualify for the event, soldiers previously had to show proficiency in fitness, weapons, land navigation, a field exercise and written tests.
During the event, soldiers were stressed in the woods, then tested with their rifles. They later performed first-aid duties and got quizzed on tactics, among other tasks. The teams of 12 to 20 people had to complete their tasks as a unit.
“We picked each other up,” said Sgt. Joshua Johnson. “It just really sticks out more here in this type of situation than in day-to-day operations.”
Like many others, Pvt. David Brady worked with soldiers in his squadron that he never before had met. Completing the Spur Ride with virtual strangers added to his confidence, he said.
“It lets you know that if you have to go to war, you’re going to be able to work with anybody,” Brady said.