Third Regiment Cadets endured 29 days of high temperatures, monsoon rainstorms and nights in the woods during Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Through those 29 days of harsh conditions, Cadets from 3rd Platoon, B Company, 3rd Regiment, Advanced Camp, learned to persevere as a team.
Cadet Joseph Nazzaro, from the State University of New York at Albany, yells out commands to his platoon while he acts as platoon leader during 3rd Regiment’s Field Training Exercise (FTX) in AO Grizzly on July 1 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The Grizzly phase of the FTX tests the Cadets on their ability to lead in a high-stress, mock-combat situations without Cadre guidance. | Photo by Reagan Zimmerman, CST Public Affairs Office
“A lot of the conditions for this summer have been horrendous rain and thunderstorms, so from start to finish, as a platoon, they learned to adapt and apply everything they learned [over] the last three years in adverse situations,” Capt. Jonathan Dieckman, an ROTC instructor at Bowling Green State University, said.
Coming together to get through difficult situations was not always easy for this platoon.
“Day one, no one knew each other [and] everyone kept to themselves,” Boise State University Cadet Todd Hall, from Shelley, Idaho, said. “We didn’t know how to work together… No one knew what was going on. No one knew anyone and no one knew how to do anything.”
Twenty-nine days later, the platoon finished its final mission in AO Grizzly, completing the Field Training Exercise.
“I think the main thing that drives us is how hard it is out here,” Hall said. “As one of our Cadre put it, it’s the worst kind of situation. It’s a mosh pit of people who don’t know each other, don’t know each other’s backgrounds, [and are] working together [to try and] accomplish a mission. So, it’s the hard times we have been through that pushed us to be so close and work well [together].”
Within the platoon, battle buddies have been important for some Cadets success.
Cadet Shelby Pitts (left), from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Cadet Sabrina Barry (right), from Salisbury University, pull security while defending their patrol base during their Field Training Exercise (FTX) in AO Grizzly on July 1 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The Grizzly phase of the FTX tests the Cadets on their ability to lead in a high-stress, mock-combat situations without Cadre guidance. | Photo by Reagan Zimmerman, CST Public Affairs Office
For Cadet Shelby Pitts, from Birmingham, Alabama, and attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham, her battle buddy, Cadet Sabrina Barry, from East Grandview, Connecticut, and attending Salisbury University, helped her throughout the whole journey.
“I couldn’t have done it without the people here, especially Barry, she has helped me a lot,” Pitts said.
The power isn’t only in the Cadets but also in the Cadre. The Cadets believe their platoon works well together because they have helpful Cadre guiding them through camp.
“We have really caring Cadre who help us and hold us to a higher standard,” University of Florida Cadet Nicholas Gonzalez, from Hollywood, Florida, said.
As an Infantry Officer, Dieckman expects more from his Cadets because he knows they can always improve their skills and leadership qualities.
Cadet Aaron Blayloc, from The Citadel, conducts an After Action Report with his platoon while he acts as platoon sergeant after finishing a lane during 3rd Regiment’s Field Training Exercise (FTX) in AO Grizzly on July 1 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The Grizzly phase of the FTX tests the Cadets on their ability to lead in a high-stress, mock-combat situations without Cadre guidance. | Photo by Reagan Zimmerman, CST Public Affairs Office
For Cadet Hall, the Cadre and platoon not only helped him through camp, but literally saved his life as well.
A few days before, Hall fell out of training because of heat exhaustion. Cadet Hall believes he would not be here if his platoon mates did not tell him to take a break and his Cadre did not take care of him.
“They saved my life and saved my career,” Hall said.
With graduation seven days away, the Cadets have come a long way and they know the end is near.
“We are all super excited to get out of here. It has been a long ride, but at the same time, I think all of us are going to miss each other after we did this journey together,” Gonzalez said.