FORT KNOX, Ky. – Picture this: a karaoke contest where you are surrounded by dozens of friends and spirits are high — only it’s 3:30 a.m. and your requirements are your boots, your rucksack, your Kevlar and an occasional air guitar solo.
Welcome to 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp’s 12-mile ruck march.
For these Cadets, the 12-miler is the final must-pass event before graduation. After waking up hours before Fort Knox even sees the sun to march nearly the length of a half marathon, Cadets must finish their final ruck in less than four hours.
To pass the time, some Cadets find creative ways to distract themselves from what feels like a never-ending march through the back roads of Fort Knox. Some reflect on their favorite memories while at Cadet Summer Training, some talk about the foods they can’t wait to eat. For one group of Cadets, however, singing loud for all to hear is key to acing the 12-miler.
“I think it started during our 8-mile ruck,” said Cadet Anthony Marino, Furman University. “We started singing in the back and it just really picked our spirits up.”
From Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” and everything in between, Marino and his fellow Cadets took turns belting out their favorite tunes.
“It pushes you through, moves your legs to the beat and it builds camaraderie,” smiled Cadet Craig Manning, American University. “We’re all together doing this, so it really reinforces that idea of esprit de corps (a feeling of belonging, fellowship and loyalty shared amongst comrades).”
When asked what it meant to him to be rucking side-by-side with the friends he met at Advanced Camp, Manning was quick to correct the question.
“We’re not friends anymore,” said Manning. “We’re family.”
With hums of “Amazing Grace” accompanying the rising Kentucky sun, one Cadet took a moment to reflect on his past four weeks at Fort Knox.
“I’ve learned a lot,” said Cadet Eric Guzy, Widener University. “It’s been really cool applying things we’ve learned at our universities to the different training events here at camp.”
When asked if he had partaken in the group sing, Guzy couldn’t help but laugh.
“I was probably singing at least the entire time,” admitted Guzy. “When I’m able to pump other people up and get them excited, that’s what motivates me to finish.”
Cadets from 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp will graduate from Cadet Summer Training on August 18, bringing them one step closer to becoming Army Officers.