Thursday, June 27, 2013

The March Back

The culminating event of Beast is a twelve mile ruck march beginning at Camp Buckner (the location where rising sophomores take part in Cadet Field Training), and ending back at West Point. It's a pretty challenging event for no other reason than that it takes a long time, but as it's the last major hurdle before becoming true members of the Corps of Cadets, it carries with it a sense of accomplishment that helps to ease the load. The last two miles of the march back are through post, so the streets are lined with parents and well-wishers bearing signs of congratulations. The last two miles are by far the easiest because there are not only people cheering you on and encouraging you, but there is a sense of finality to it that somehow eases any potential struggle.

Upon completing this ruck march, new cadets are brought to the companies they will spend the academic year in.There are four regiments in the Corps of Cadets, and these are numbered. In each regiment, there are three numbered battalions. In each battalion, there are the companies organized alphabetically. 1st Battalion has A, B, and C companies, 2nd Battalion has D, E, and F companies, and 3rd Battalion has G, H, and I companies. So people identify with their company by name (I am in E2, which is E company in 2nd Regiment) and by mascot (E2's mascot is the Brewdawgs).
This is a Brewdawg
So when the new cadets show up to their companies there is an event in which Cows and Firsties test the knowledge of the incoming new cadets and instill in them company spirit before they are released to their new rooms. This event has taken a lot of different forms over the many years of the academy, but these days it is simply a test of a new cadet's ability to recite the information in his or her Knowledge Book and an opportunity for the upperclassmen of the company to establish themselves in the role that was previously given to the Beast cadre.

Once the new cadets make it through this event, they are given their team leader, a Yearling (sophomore) cadet whose job is to ensure that their new cadet is taken care of and learning throughout the academic year. The team leader is perhaps the greatest ally to a new cadet who is fresh out of high school and without military experience because they are not far removed from the Plebe experience themselves.

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