Ghost Squadron Troopers, Royal Canadian Dragoons earn their spurs

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"They have honored their regiment."
With these five words, Lt. Col. Robert Duchaine, commander of the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, praised the Soldiers of the Ghost Squadron Spur Ride at Fort Drum, NY, February 16.
The assembled troops did not seem to notice the bitter cold or the snow as they stood proudly to receive their hard-earned spurs.
The ceremony officially inducted 114 Ghost Squadron Troopers, along with 14 from Squadron D, Royal Canadian Dragoons out of Petewawa, Ontario, into the prestigious Order of the Spur.
"Earning my spurs means joining something bigger than myself," said Pfc. Samantha Digby, medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3-71 Cavalry. "Becoming a part of a tradition that has a remarkable past and a hopeful future."
The grueling physical and mental challenge began in the early morning hours of Valentine's Day and did not finish until nearly noon the next day.
The events mainly focused on individual and collective reconnaissance and surveillance tasks that are a cavalry Trooper's bread and butter.
The 1012 person teams were dropped off at various locations and then found their way to the seven stations, testing their land navigation, weapons, communications and cold weather operations skills.
Teamwork, however, was the name of the game and what the Soldiers counted on to win the day.
"For us, it was all about the team building and camaraderie," said Warrant Officer Matt Edwards, with the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
Edwards earned his spurs at the 2014 iteration of the event and was back this year in charge of a station that required Soldiers to put up a tent, sanitize water and prepare to receive casualties that needed shelter from the harsh weather.
In times gone by, cavalry Soldiers were not allowed to wear spurs until they had proven their horsemanship skills after a lengthy training program. Troopers can now earn silver spurs during a spur ride or gold spurs by serving in a cavalry unit in combat.
Today, a Trooper of any rank can be called upon to lead a team during a spur ride challenge.
To be successful, spur candidates must forge bonds immediately and learn to work together, according to Capt. Jordan LaPoint, with the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
"The natural leaders will emerge, regardless of rank."
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