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NEWS | Aug. 22, 2023

New York Army Guard Cavalry Troopers Compete for Spurs

By Master Sgt. Ryan Campbell, New York National Guard

YOUNGSTOWN, N.Y. - Twenty New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment, earned silver spurs by completing a three-day “Spur Ride” at the Youngstown Lewiston Training Area outside Niagara Falls Aug. 16-18.

Traditional cavalry spurs can be earned in two ways — passing a spur ride for silver spurs or deploying and engaging in combat for golden spurs.

“It’s an esprit-de-corps event where we take our best scouts across the squadron where they have to conduct scout tasks to standard and then various other physical activities over a 48-hour period,” said squadron Command Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Cross.

The 101st Cavalry Regiment is headquartered at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station but has elements in Buffalo, Geneva and Jamestown. The unit serves as a reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition squadron, which makes it the “eyes” of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, scouting out enemy locations ahead of the rest of the brigade.

The spur ride began for 31 Soldiers on Aug. 16 with an exam on tactical proficiency, followed by two days outdoors to complete training lanes and a 12-mile ruck march.

“I thought the lanes were really good,” said Spc. Peter Fillion, a senior scout observer from Charlie Troop. “It was more challenging than I thought it was going to be, but it covered the three main mission sets of being a cavalry scout.”

Fillion, who has been in the 101st for two years, came in first in the ruck march.

The tradition of earning spurs goes back to the beginning of American cavalry, where new Troopers were assigned to horses with shaved tails until they received extensive training in horsemanship and the use of the cavalry saber. Cross said that once they proved their ability, they were given their spurs.

Cross said the Soldiers selected to participate had above-average physical fitness and marksmanship scores and time in service requirements.

He explained that now that the COVID pandemic has eased, battalion leadership is trying to have as many Soldiers as possible qualify for their spurs.

That included Soldiers from support roles and those who had just returned from deployments to Europe and the Horn of Africa.

Soldiers first had to pass a written exam. Then they were divided into teams to proceed to the training lanes.

These included area, zone and route recon, which are the main tasks of a cavalry unit, Cross said. The goal was to test their tactical capabilities in defeating obstacles, engaging enemies and securing objectives.

“The silver spurs are something a lot of people see as a rite of passage,” said Cross. “It’s a symbol that you are a proven scout in the cavalry world. It’s pretty important and a special thing for a lot of these Soldiers.”

Fillion, the ruck-march winner, said he was up for the challenge.

“It’s great to have these opportunities. If you kill it on one opportunity, then another one always presents itself,” he said.

Cross said the spur ride was a big success for the unit and a great way to end two weeks of annual training.

“Those who were awarded their spurs at our spur dinner are the ones who have proven they are well above their peers in being technically and tactically proficient,” Cross said.



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