Air Cav Soldiers earn their spurs for the first time in Korea
…For none but the shades of Cavalrymen
Dismount at Fiddlers' Green...
Dirt-covered Soldiers chant the cavalry's famous rhyme known as "Fidler's Green," treading each painful mile as the burden of their rucksacks got heavier by the minute. A Soldier winces in pain as a grinning Stetson-donned cavalry sergeant with silver spurs looks on without pity at the "shaved-tails," a nickname for green cavalry Soldiers without spurs, originally given when the tails of horses were shaved as a warning to others of a new troop's inexperience.
For 4-6 ARS, an air cavalry squadron that flies OH-58D Kiowa helicopters, the event was a last "hoorah" before wrapping up its nine-month tour on the peninsula before returning to their home station on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
With this rhyme on their lips and a packed rucksack on their backs, about 60 troopers of the 4th Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, participated in a Spur Ride, May 21-22, in Chungcheong Province, South Korea.
The Spur Ride, rites of passage in Army cavalry units, is a test of a trooper's physical strength, mental toughness and ability to lead. Along with ruck marches and obstacle courses, Soldiers must learn cavalry history and tradition, to include the historic cavalry poem, "The Fiddler's Green."
Upon completion of the day-long course, candidates are awarded silver cavalry spurs, which troopers are then allowed to wear during squadron formations and ceremonies. Spurs can only be worn when assigned to a cavalry unit, and they are often paired with the traditional black Stetson hat.
The Spur Ride began with a six-mile ruck march around Camp Humphreys, South Korea, airfield and then continued to a training area, where teams completed lanes ran by each of the squadron's six troops [companies].
Events included moving through obstacles, tactical movement under fire, calling in situation reports, learning survival skills and completing team challenges. All candidates could expect a difficult day, but teams showing a lack of enthusiasm or a minimum of esprit de corps, were pushed harder and to their limits.
In order to be a part of the Spur Ride, the applicants had to meet certain competitive requirements, and they had to be reviewed by a senior leader before being accepted. Each candidate required a spur-holding sponsor who could vouch for the applicant's suitability.
Spur candidates competed in a "Spur Board" at the end of the event. Soldiers were tested on various topics such as The Soldier's Creed, Code of Conduct, General Orders, history of 6th Cavalry Regiment, and etiquette for the wear of spurs and the signature Stetson cavalry hat.
"It was great teambuilding," Pfc. Tevin Felder said, an aviation operations specialist from Orangeburg, S.C., assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, and a candidate of the Spur Ride. "When I wanted to give up, I kept pushing. It brought the best out of me, and I learned a lot."
"I am proud to be among one of the few Korean nationals to have earned the right to wear cavalry spurs," said Korean Augmentees to the United States Army, Pfc. Lee, Jun Ho, native of Seoul, South Korea, and assigned to Troop B. "I'm very happy that I finished the Spur Ride. It's an honor to wear a Stetson and spurs. I look forward to being a spur-holder for the next Spur Ride."
During the concluding ceremony, Lt. Col. Brian T. Watkins, the battalion commander congratulated the candidates on their successes and reminded them of the importance of teamwork.
"You have demonstrated cavalry and leadership skills greater than those expected of others," Watkins, a Fort Lewis, Wash. native said. "But you wouldn't be here without your team."
…No trooper ever gets to Hell
Ere he's emptied his canteen.
And so rides back to drink again
With friends at Fiddlers' Green.