In the pre-dawn hours of June 22, 150 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers set out to accomplish a mission: to earn their spurs in a grueling 30 hour individual and team challenge at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The tradition dates back to the days of knights on horseback, when mounted warriors earned and validated their place among peers. The 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, held a spur ride that physically and mentally challenged Soldiers during endurance trials.
The prize was earning the privilege of being called a spur holder.
Specialist Angelica King, intelligence analyst, 572nd Military Intelligence Company, said she decided to earn her spurs after she heard a sergeant major talk about the Soldiers who were killed in combat during his last deployment.
I thought to myself, if those Soldiers can make that sacrifice, then whats 30 hours out of my life? King said.
King was the only female participant in this event.
Membership in the Order of the Spurs required King and other candidates to complete basic warrior skills: assembling and firing multiple weapon systems, evaluating a casualty, reacting to a given combat scenario, completing an obstacle course, performing a zodiac assault from the water and completing a road march while carrying a full rucksack.
She has got quite a bit of intestinal fortitude to be out here, 1st Sgt. Richard Braun, 572nd MICO, said.
King said she felt apprehensive about participating in the spur ride because she was the only female there.
The cavalry is a (predominantly) male organization and I was afraid that they would think what right does she have to be here, King said.
Instead, King she was immediately accepted as part of the group.
She has been a great part of the team and has helped motivate us all, said 2nd Lt. Joseph LaPlante, platoon leader, Comanche Troop, 8-1 Cav.
As part of the team, King was expected to carry her own weight and sometimes pick up when teammates faltered.
Where someone is weak, another is strong and you have to fill in for those weaknesses, LaPlante said. She has helped me out when I couldnt do something and we help her.
LaPlante said that when he needed assistance completely assembling a crew served weapon, King was there to lend a hand and when she needed help lifting an 80-pound duffel bag to her shoulder, someone stepped up to assist her.
Completing a spur ride is a joint effort. The physical and mental hardships the team goes through forge strong bonds of camaraderie.
Without the team, I wouldnt have made it this far, King said.
Each of the Soldiers going through this has a sense of pride and tradition, said Lt. Col. Patrick R. Michaelis, squadron commander.
After completing the 30-hour challenge, the participants were named as the newest members of the Order of the Spur and allowed the honor of wearing silver spurs.