Last Updated: June 20th, 2017By Tags:

FORT KNOX, Ky. – It’s been a long day for First Regiment Advanced Camp. Starting at 3 a.m., Cadets strapped on their 35 lb. rucksack, got into formation and began what would be a 12-mile ruck march.

“It was pretty painful,” said Cadet Samantha Basgall, University of Colorado, Boulder. “I feel tired and I’m hurting a little but I feel positive and really relieved that we all made it this far.”

Some Cadets were given an extra source of motivation to get them through the 12 miles. In addition to glow sticks given to Cadets to help see in the early hours of the morning, Cadets from one platoon were also given miniature American flags to attach to their helmets.

After completing a 12 mile ruck march with an American flag attached to her helmet, Cadet Emmanuella Adu-Gyamki, Virginia Commonwealth University, waits in line for breakfast on June 20 at Fort Knox, Ky.

“They were given to us by our Lieutenant,” said Cadet Andrew Elliott, Ohio State University. “He told us about his motivation to join the army and to move from Vietnam to the United States,” said Elliott.

“He saw a protest when he went to the U.S. Embassy while he was trying to come over to the U.S. He saw the protestors weren’t protesting the American flag, but instead they were protesting in the hopes that the U.S. would help them in their agricultural crisis.”

“He said that really motivated him and that the American flag was a symbol to everyone: a symbol of freedom.”

For Elliott and the rest of his platoon, it was clear that not only had the American flag boosted their morale as they began their 12-mile march at 3 a.m., but that the flag served as a reminder of why each and every one of them had decided to join the army.

“It got us through,” said Elliot.

After completing their 12-mile ruck march, Cadets were treated to a breakfast of bagels, fresh fruit and milk – a nice break from consistently eating MREs for almost 20 days straight.

After breakfast, Cadets were then assigned to being weapons maintenance.

Cadets from 1st Regiment Advanced Camp clean their equiptment after 20 days in the field on June 20 at Fort Knox, Ky.

“Weapons maintenance is important because at anytime you could be called to do something,” said Cadet Devin Stevens. Ensuring that your weapon is clean and fully functioning is imperative to real-world combat.

“These weapons are used by the thousands of Cadets that come through, so it’s also important to keep them clean for the next round of cadets and to keep our standards up as the group that currently uses them.”

As Cadets continued to clean the weapons and gear they’ve carried for the past 26 days, many of them reflected on their experiences here at Cadet Summer Training.

”We’ve had times when it’s a lot of fun and times when it’s been pretty hard,” said Stevens. “But the camaraderie here has been pretty good and I feel like I’ve made a lot of life long connections.”

First Regiment Advanced Camp will be the first round of Cadets to graduate from Cadet Summer Training on June 25.