Soldiers in Germany compete to earn silver spurs
March 28, 2009
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Some 500 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment soldiers competed this week for the right to wear silver spurs — the traditional symbol of an accomplished cavalry trooper.
Many of those engaged in the 2nd Cav spur ride already have earned the right to wear gold spurs, which are traditionally awarded to cavalry troopers who have seen combat. The unit returned late last year from a 15-month deployment to Iraq.
The spur ride coordinator, Capt. Mark Lichak, 27, of Findlay, Ohio, said 62 regimental leaders started the event Thursday with hundreds of other soldiers competing Friday.
The first portion of the spur ride was an 11-kilometer ruck march that started from Barbaraberg, a small Bavarian town that is home to a monastery dedicated to Saint Barbara, the patron saint of the artillery. The ruck march ended at the Saint Barbara monument at the Netzaberg off-post military housing area.
Capt. Adrian Massey looked tired but satisfied Thursday after running the last section of the course, through the housing area, with his teammates.
"Three (in our team) showed up with injuries but we started and finished on time. We try to ruck-march four to six miles each week, but the hill (on the spur ride course) added an extra element that we don’t have in our area (at Vilseck)," he said.
Soldiers from the regiment plan to spend a day clearing branches, debris and trash from around the Saint Barbara monument as a community support project, Lichak said.
Friday’s spur ride activities included tests of soldiers’ ability to disassemble and reassemble weapons, use communications equipment, perform first aid and demonstrate artillery skills, he said.
"In the old days, spur rides were actual horse rides that might last days. At Fort Hood (Texas), you had to walk up to a horse and ask it for permission to mount and dismount. It is a rite of passage," Lichak said.