Four years ago the Alaska National Guard changed from an U.S. Army Infantry to Calvary and as part of the transition to the 1-297th Calvary Squadron a special weekend of training or “earning of spurs” was held at the Kenai Armory the first weekend of August. “It was an exercise that was basically our soldiers showing their merit as cavalrymen by demonstrating their proficiency in the Calvary skill set. They are different skills than infantry, we are a reconnaissance unit, we are out there to gather intelligence bring it back and convey it to the infantry that will then execute the action upon a target,” explained Capt. Sam Scott. “Every branch of the Army has its’ own traditions and one of the Calvary’s is the tradition of earning your spurs that we inherited from the time when the Calvary use to ride horses so we call this training a Spur Ride,” said Scott. According to Scott the Troopers trained as a team and succeeded or not as a team rather than the typical individual go or no go pattern of training.
It’s been a tradition in the City of Kenai ever since the National Guard has had a station here to express their appreciation for those who serve in the Guard. Kenai Mayor Pat Porter kept that tradition during the Spur Ride by treating all the soldiers to a home cooked barbeque Saturday night at the Armory. “Our community is so proud that our National Guard Armory is here and that all of soldiers were coming here for their training that it was a perfect opportunity to show our appreciation to the military for their service. So with the help of some corporate sponsors like Hilcorp, XTO Energy and ConocoPhillips we gathered to funds to make the barbeque happen with the assistance of a lot of volunteers like the Kenai Seniors who baked the homemade strawberry rhubarb pies and the VFW did the coleslaw the American Legion the corn bread and it was great giving the 130 some soldiers who came here to train a home cooked barbeque that they really appreciated,” said Porter. Appreciation that was shown by the National Guard during the dinner when Capt. Scott presented Mayor Porter with an official certificate of appreciation. “It was a huge honor and brought tears to my eyes because here we are trying to say thank you to them for their service to protecting our freedoms and quality of life and they’re appreciating us,” said Porter.