They wear Stetsons and black T-shirts with silver spurs attached to their boots. While moving through the formation of “Shave Tails,” the spur holders can see the desire and fear in the new candidates’ eyes because today these “green troops” will be put to the test in an effort to earn the coveted silver spurs.
Paratroopers with 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, put their minds and bodies to the test by participating in a Spur Ride, July 26 and 27.
The spur ride is a time-honored tradition that dates back to 1776, when new Soldiers, known as “Shave Tails”, were put through intensive training to learn how to handle their swords and horses in unison.
Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hauke, 1st Sqdn., 17th Cav. Regt., 82nd CAB, has been a spur holder since 2006 and explained on the extensive history of the spur ride.
“When green troopers first arrived at their new cavalry assignments they were assigned a horse with a shaved tail,” Hauke said. “They were in need of extensive training, especially in the area of swordsmanship from atop a horse.
“As with history, only when they were able to prove their ability to perform with their horse and saber were they awarded spurs,” Hauke said. “As tradition continues, though not on horseback, every trooper must make a commitment to the organization and earn their spurs.”
Today, calvary regiments throughout the Army uphold the traditions with a rigorous and lengthy event that will test the trooper’s physical and mental strength.
The ride comprised of many events over a 24-hour span to include a physical fitness test, road march, obstacle course, various lane training events and a board.
“Our goal with each event is to build the entire team within the squadron and the task force; as well as pass this history to the next generation,” said Lt. Col. Richard Zampelli, commander of 1st Sqdn., 17th Cav. Regt. and spur holder since 2000.
The group of contenders was very diverse with all age groups, genders and ranks participating to earn their place within the Order of the Spur.
“Some of these troopers have never been with a calvary unit so therefore this is the first time they have had the opportunity to participate,” Zampelli said. “If they meet the criteria set forth in the regulations, then it does not matter, everyone will have the same opportunity to earn their spurs.”
At 45, Staff Sgt. Jerry Hughes, Troop E, 1st Sqdn., 17th Cav. Regt., is one of the older participates in the Spur Ride.
“This is the first time that I was with a calvary unit where I could participate in this type of event,” Hughes said. “I wanted to see if I could do it, even with my age and prove to one of my best friends that it could be done.”
The assorted group of spur candidates also included Soldiers from outside the squadron, 1st Sgt. Michael Muller, Company B, 122nd Aviation Support Battalion, 82nd CAB, sponsored three of his troopers who are part of Task Force Saber, during the event.
“Our company is assigned to the cavalry in a support capacity therefore they were able to be a part of this historic event,” Muller said. “I am proud to say that my troopers did a fantastic job and I know they are proud of their efforts as well.”
In the end, 55 out of about 60 troopers from various units within, and attached to, their brigade earned the silver spurs and their place within the Order of the Spur during a spur dinner held in their honor.
“The Spur Ride was an extremely successful event overall for the squadron and Task Force Saber,” Hauke said. “We had no less than two troopers participate from every troop in the squadron and three from separate companies attached to Saber for the global response. “We are proud of all of those who competed and gave their all during the ride; we look forward to other opportunities that will allow us to do this again in the future.”