|Story and photos by Mike Strasser
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Aug. 15, 2013) — It was the longest ruck march they’ve endured thus far at West Point, but the past six weeks of Cadet Basic Training had conditioned the new cadets well for the 12-mile March Back Aug. 12 from Camp Buckner to the steps of Washington Hall.
“It really wasn’t that bad, because they built up the miles over time,” New Cadet Steven Tibbles, Company G, said. “You just have to have the right mindset to get through it.”
He said the longest ruck march prior was nine miles and his company had accumulated about 35 miles throughout summer training.
The new cadets and cadre from Company D had the honor of being the lead company on the march, and carried the banner with the class motto, “So Others May Dream.”
Named as Best CBT Company during an awards ceremony the night before, Co. D was led by Class of 2014 Cadet Kaitlyn Zimmerman, company commander, and Class of 2014 Cadet Adam Irons, company first sergeant.
Zimmerman said the new cadets conquered CBT, otherwise known as Beast Barracks, because they learned very early how to depend on each other for support.
“They’ve done an amazing job pushing each other hard through all the training events—always motivating, always helping each other,” Zimmerman said.
She also credited the cadre chain of command for keeping performance levels and standards high.
“We never let up on that and we kept the new cadets locked up pretty tight,” she said. “We had really great discipline. That’s what made them the best.”
Hard work, motivation and discipline factored into the success of Co. D, Irons said.
“From the get-go, I told them if they wanted to be the best company they needed to do everything in their power to make sure they always demonstrated those three things,” Irons said. “And they came out with a fire the whole training cycle and kept it going.”
It doesn’t stop at the end of summer training, either. Irons told the new cadets they needed to keep doing what they did best at Beast during the academic year.
“They’re not peaking here at March Back,” Irons said. “They want to make themselves better so they’re ready for opportunities to lead.”
Zimmerman is confident that the new cadets are ready to join the Corps on Acceptance Day Aug.17.
“I think they’ll all do a great job as fourth class cadets,” she said. “I’ve seen them perform well and heard reports from others about how they’re doing the right things no matter what. I know they’ll continue that into the academic year.”
With six weeks of CBT completed, Tibbles said he’s looking forward to new challenges during his first year as a member of the Corps of Cadets.
“It feels nice now that I can take a deep breath and know that CBT is over,” he said. “Now I can start the academics and focus on my career in the military.”
Tibbles is also interested in exploring cadet activities, like boxing, and thought it would be amazing to be able to jump with the West Point Parachute Team.
|With support from the West Point Band, the Class of 2017 and the Cadet Basic Training cadre near the end of the ruck march from Camp Buckner to mark the end of Cadet Basic Training for the new cadets. Photo by Paul Rader
New Cadet Kelsey Pittman will be one of the newest members of the Army Track and Field team and said CBT provided many memorable moments.
“It was a really awesome journey and I discovered a lot about myself and improved a lot,” she said.
She said her tendency was to blend into the background, but now feels more confident about standing out in a crowd.
“I feel I’ve become more confident in this environment than I have in previous experiences in my life,” Pittman said.
New Cadet Travis Chewning-Kulick felt relieved to have finished Beast.
“We worked hard all summer and now I’m excited to start the academic year,” he said. “The rucks were pretty hard—they take a lot out of you but they’re definitely rewarding in the end.”
As he leaves behind fellow members of Co. E this summer he looks forward to meeting new friends in Co. G.
“I’m joining a great company—Go Frogs—and so I want to be very spirited and do well in all my classes,” Chewning-Kulick said.
The new cadets all voted on the class motto, which was announced after the awards ceremony.
“I think it was a good choice for our class,” he said. “It shows the selfless service and sacrifice that we’re dedicating our careers to. I’m pleased with it.”
Pittman agreed it’s an ideal motto for the Class of 2017.
“The reason I wanted to come to West Point was to be a part of something bigger than myself and do something for others,” she said. “This motto fits with my own goals and thoughts of becoming an officer.”
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