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Ceremonial spurs donated to continue Cavalry tradition

The co-owners of the recently closed Renton Western Wear donated 543 pairs of gold and silver ceremonial spurs to the Cavalry units at JBLM Feb. 23. Photo credit: Sgt. Ashunteia Smith, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD - The co-owners of a recently closed western wear business that had storefronts in Renton and Tacoma decided to thank Cavalry soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for their continued business support over the years by donating 543 pairs of gold and silver spurs to the 7th Infantry Division Feb. 23.

The spurs will be dispersed to Cavalry units across the installation.

Gina Kavesh presented the spurs to members of the 7th ID alongside her sister in-law Michelle Kavesh, who participated in the donation on behalf of her husband and store co-owner, Jerry Kavesh, who was unable to attend.

Jerry and Gina were the third generation to operate their family's business, Renton Western Wear, that had been open for 62 years before the siblings were forced to make the difficult decision to close shop.

In 2013, a struggling economy forced Kavesh and his sister to shutter both brick-and-mortar stores and transition to an e-commerce platform. Kavesh continued to sell the store's most popular items online until recently, when he made the decision to close the business completely.

The final closure left the Kavesh's with a surplus of some of their most popular items, which included the spurs used by Cavalry units.

"We really didn't like the idea of the spurs just sitting around in our home as Jerry scaled back the business, nor did we like the idea of throwing them away," said Michelle Kavesh. "With JBLM so close, I decided to reach out and see if there was some way to donate them and provide a cost-saving to the Cavalry units so they wouldn't have to purchase any, at least for a while."

The estimated value of the donated spurs is $3,210.

According to Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Butler, 7th ID Public Affairs, the tradition of awarding spurs to Cavalry soldiers, referred to as troopers, can trace its history back to knighthood where the awarding of spurs symbolized entry into the ranks of mounted warriors. In those times, a squire aspiring to knighthood had to perform a task in battle or in training to earn their spurs.

The spurs have since become an Army tradition. In modern times, they are awarded to a soldier upon their induction into the Order of the Spur, which recognizes individual qualifications for soldiers in a Cavalry unit. For a soldier to qualify and compete for the Order of the Spur within the unit, the soldier must first pass a series of physical and mental tests, referred to as the Spur Ride.

Maj. Christopher Rose, squadron operations officer for the 4th Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, accepted the donation on behalf of the 7th ID and said the spurs will be put to use nearly immediately.

The 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division will hold a Spur Ride in the next 10 days, Rose said, and in August the 4-6 Cavalry Regiment will conduct their own Spur Ride that will include one-third of the unit's soldiers.

"We appreciate everything," Rose said. "It is a small community (of Cavalry soldiers) and it is awesome to have the community support from outside the installation."

Rose also pointed out that all service members, not just Cavalry soldiers, are eligible to participate in the Spur Ride, adding to the impact the donated spurs will have.

Gina Kavesh said it was amazing for her family to be able to meet some of the soldiers who will benefit from the donation.

"You know, we really appreciate your service, and we appreciated your business when we were in business," she said. "To see this coming full circle and knowing 500 service members will earn their spurs on us is terrific."

The Kavesh family has been invited to return to JBLM in August as guests of the 4-6 ARS during the Spur Ride.

"It's a very physical event and you will see a lot of emotions that day, but you will get a glimpse into the work that it takes to earn a pair of these spurs," Rose said.

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