/* */

64-feet above ground. A secured rope seat and your own strength holding you up. Now Cadet, take the leap.

Cadet Darrius Duncan, University of South Alabama, begins his journey down the 64-foot rappel tower at Fort Knox, Ky. on June 5, 2021. | Photo by Jacob Hempen, CST Public Affairs Office

Facing your fears is something all of us have to do, but for 1st Regiment Advanced Camp Cadets, their fears became all too real when looking at the Rappel Tower this morning.

Cadet Carter Jefferson, from the Virginia Military Institute, shared his feelings as he climbed up the stairs of the wooden structure.

“If you can’t call it anxiety, I’d say it’s a lot of anticipation of what’s going to happen,” Jefferson explained.

For any Cadet who has never rappelled before, like Jefferson, the climb can leave you with shaky knees and a quick pulse as you realize you are not going back down the stairs to reach the ground.

Jefferson offered his insight on how to beat out the fear that would make most scamper back down to the bottom.

“I’m definitely going through the motions in my head,” Jefferson said. “I practiced physically as well, and we’ll see what happens when I finally get there.”

A 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp Cadet sits in the L-Shape position before taking the leap and rappelling down the free, or no wall, side of the 64-foot rappel tower at Fort Knox, Ky. on June 5, 2021. | Photo by Jacob Hempen, CST Public Affairs Office

However, Cadets do not rappel down the tower only once.

The first time down, they can have some assistance with a wall to help with footing. After that, the wall is removed and Cadets must lower themselves to the ground with only the breeze surrounding them.

Cadet Mae Harper, who attends Ohio State University, had just worked her way down the wall side of the tower mentioned that she felt way better now that she had finished her initial rappel.

Her strength had come not from training, like Jefferson, but from a new perspective.

“I was trying to think of this experience more as like an exciting experience than a nervous experience,” Harper noted. “You don’t really get the chance to feel this nervous very often. So, I’m trying to embrace that feeling.”

Now going back up again Harper commented on her feelings facing that second trip.

“I feel a lot better, but I’m nervous for the no wall,” Harper said. “So, I’m using the same idea and embracing that feeling. I’m trying to stay consistent.”

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Lane, TF Wolf, gives Cadet Abigail Malazarte, University of Delaware, a boost of confidence and reassurance that she can face the free, or no wall, side of the 64-foot rappel tower at Fort Knox, Ky. with no trouble on June 5, 2021. | Photo by Jacob Hempen, CST Public Affairs Office

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Lane, who works as a Lane Safety for the Rappel Tower, sees many Cadets come through his lane and have to jump off the no wall side.

He said he sees a lot of confidence, learning, and, finally, recognition that the situation is scary, but in the end that it is safe.

His advice to Cadets mirrored very similar to that of Jefferson’s approach. Focus on the training and instruction and anyone can make it through.

But what he added was something that each Cadet will do once they step up to the edge.

“Learn to tap into that little bit of bravery.”