Fort Stewart, GA
Dropped off into an unknown location with only a map and a compass, 32 teams of more than 300 Soldiers tested their proficiency against enemy detection and their willpower to undergo more than 18 miles of grueling reconnaissance tasks, April 10-11.
The 36-hour mission upheld a long-standing Army tradition as Troopers with the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, strived for their chance to earn the coveted Silver Spur.
“This will be a challenging event for most, but what is most important is that you finish as a team,” Lt. Col. Justin Hadley, 6th Sqdn., 8th Cav. Regt. commander, said to his Soldiers before they set out on the squadron’s spur ride.
It was going to take working together for each group to orient their way out of the dense Fort Stewart woodlands. Battling the tough terrain coupled with the Georgia heat took a toll on many of the Troopers—for some, the spur ride sparked a level of fatigue they’ve never felt before.
“I just keep telling my guys to push through the pain,” said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Monfort, with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 6/8 Cav. Regt. “This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this. This is rough and intense, but my team is making every effort to win first place.”
Sergeant First Class Monfort’s squad was the first team to reach the first objective after navigating through the woods for almost eight hours. There, they had to treat a simulated casualty, and then carry the casualty for three more miles on a field crafted litter.
The Soldiers also had to complete a series of other tasks, like reassembling and firing machine guns, classifying bridges, calling for fire and knowing 8th Cavalry Regiment history. These tasks are common knowledge for a cavalry scout; however, a large percentage of Soldiers who participated in the spur ride specialize in combat-service-support related jobs.
Specialist Shafiya Dure, a communications specialist with D Co., 703rd Brigade Support Battalion (an element of Soldiers who directly support 6/8 Cav. Regt.), said that proving she could complete the missions normally expected of a Scout gave her a greater sense of accomplishment. Dure was the first female Soldier to complete the Spur Ride with her team.
“It’s another notch I get to add to my belt,” said Spc. Dure. “A lot of people may think that female Soldiers can’t do it, but I made it, I am here, and there are about five other female Soldiers who are not too far behind me.”
Specialist Dure said she longed for the opportunity to earn her silver spurs after deploying with 6/8 Cav., earning golden ones. She said she knew this would be a challenging feat to overcome, but she did whatever it took to keep herself mentally focused. “I tried to block the pain in any way I could, even if it meant singing to myself for no reason,” she laughed.
Keeping in high spirits, and the overall drive to succeed helped 275 “Mustang” Soldiers earn their silver spurs. Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams, 3rd ID commanding general, congratulated the Troopers for their accomplishments and awarded the best overall team their spurs during a traditional spur dinner.
“You should feel different, you should feel special,” Maj. Gen. Abrams said to the newest 3rd Inf. Div. Soldiers inducted into the Order of the Spur.
Major General Abrams said that the ‘Mustang’ Soldiers should be proud to have taken part in the spur ride and to be a part of the 8th Cavalry Regiment he has served since 1986. “The history that many of you have learned and studied is rich with selfless sacrifice, courage (and) teamwork. Everyone in this squadron has a chance to write the next chapter of 8th Cavalry history, and I encourage you to write that next chapter.” The best team awarded their silver spurs are Spc. Justin Monroe, Pfc. Forrest freeman, Cpl. Jason Rose, Pfc. Brandon Elliot-Guillen, Staff Sgt. Matthew Helmer, Sgt. Todd McDuffie, Spc. James Cheriyout and Sgt. Christopher Sanders – all with Troop A, 6/8 Cav.