“Go…Go…Go…” was heard in the cold, quiet, hours before dawn, as Cadets from 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp, stood lined up in front of the wooded trail that marked the beginning of their 12-mile foot-march route.
Cadre member, 2nd Lt. Hailey Hutton stated that the 12-mile march serves to signify the Cadets’ last mission in the field, following their time at the Field Training Exercises (FTX). After 12 days in the field and waking up at 2 a.m. the Cadets were already tired, making morale important.
For Cadet Madison Nygren, from the University of Southern California, motivation came from thinking of her family, including her little sister who is a freshman in her ROTC program.
“I wanna pave the way, show her it can be done,” said Nygren.
As the Cadets made their way from Densberger Base Camp to the end of 26th Cavalry Drive, they marched over multiple hills, unable to see the person in front of them until the sun began to rise at 6 a.m. according to Hutton.
“I just thought of my family and the people I would not give up on and I rucked for them,” said Cadet Timothy Catingub, from the University of Hawaii.
As each of the 1st Regiment companies marched through the finish line they were met with the support of the company before them, their Cadet Summer Training (CST) cadre, and a playlist of power music, like “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor coming from a set of speakers. The finish line was set with a red, white and blue “mission accomplished” arch, arm immersion coolers, an on site medic, and a rest and relief period before heading back to the barracks for a warm meal.
Alpha Company, 1st Platoon was the first to cross the finish line marking their end at 6:24 a.m. The entirety of Alpha Company finished within three and a half hours. Ending the event, the last set of boots crossed the finish line around 7:30 a.m.
“I feel like we set the standard, and we set it high,” said Catingub.