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PHOTO CAPTION:  Melany Loftin (right), 1st ACB’s Family Readiness Support Assistant, is taught how to acquire her target using an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon during 1st Air Cavalry Brigade’s Spouse Spur Ride July 9. During the event, spouses performed physical readiness training, maneuvered through confidence and leader reaction courses, fired weapons using the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, and learned the basics of land navigation, ultimately allowing them a glimpse into the daily life of their soldiers.  Photo credit:  Sgt. Christopher Calvert

July 15, 2013
By Sgt. Christopher Calvert

FORT HOOD, Texas – Spouses with the “Warrior” brigade became honorary soldiers for a day and earned their spurs during the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade’s Spouse Spur Ride July 9.

Spurs are traditionally given to Troopers upon completion of a spur ride or after serving as a member of or with a Cavalry unit. To earn theirs, spouses were put through a variety of challenges.

During the event, 57 spouses performed physical readiness training, maneuvered through the confidence and leader-reaction courses, fired weapons using the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, and learned the basics of land navigation; ultimately allowing them a glimpse into the daily life of their soldier.

“This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to do anything Army-related like this,” said Julia Watlington-Kloster, a Heidelberg, Germany native and Army spouse. “I’ve often wondered what my husband does while at work. Now that I’ve participated, I have a new respect for what all soldiers do, especially here in the scorching heat.”

Sgt. George Watlington, Julia’s husband and a mental health specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st ACB, said the Spouse Spur Ride provided the opportunity for his spouse to see what a day in the life of a soldier often entails.

“I’m glad Julia had the opportunity to see what the Army does on a day-to-day basis,” said Watlington, who hails from Fayetteville, N.C. “I completed the Air Assault course a few months ago, and she’s been eager to see some of the challenges I faced during the obstacle course. The Spouse Spur Ride not only let her see the obstacles, but actually let her negotiate them as well.”

Pfc. Jeff Bates, a Richmond, Va. native with Company C, 2nd Brigade, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, attended the event with his wife Tiffany, and said the Spouse Spur Ride was a huge success as it offered the perfect blend of entertainment and insight for her.

“It was awesome to get to show my wife some of the things we do in the military and what it’s like to be a soldier,” Jeff said. “She’s been talking about how fun it was every since we finished the first event.”

Tiffany echoed her husband’s enthusiasm and admitted although she was nervous at first, she ended up having a blast.

“I didn’t know what to expect, so I was originally pretty nervous to undergo some of the events; I thought my husband was going to push me into the huge mud pit,” she said light-heartedly. “Now that it’s all over, I can’t wait to do it again, and the mud pit ended up being my favorite part.”