With the U.S. Military Academy offering a multitude of physical education courses, cadets are exposed to various challenges that test their heart and merit in the face of adversity. Whether a cadet chooses to engage in wrestling, boxing, or combatives, each course is designed to push them to their limit or surpass the limit itself.
Thus, on Nov. 12, Class of 2021 Cadets Gabrielle White and Beaux Guffey were recognized by the Department of Physical Education for their personal courage and mental fortitude during the ninth annual Lt. Gen. Hal Moore Warrior Athlete of Excellence Award ceremony at Arvin Cadet Physical Development Center. The award serves to commemorate cadets who have accomplished complex physical feats in the spirit of Lt. Gen. Hal Moore.
Moore surpassed his limits by leading the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the weeklong Battle of La Drang on Nov. 14, 1965, during the Vietnam War.
He succeeded in battling through insurmountable odds against North Vietnamese Army forces, despite being significantly outnumbered by the enemy.
The ceremony was met with encouraging words from the late Lt. Gen. Hal Moore as his son, David Moore (USMA Class of 1984), who attended virtually from his home Alabama, presented the audience with a video presentation of his father delivering a speech from the year 1945.
"Get the job done and done well. Plan ahead — create the future — be proactive not reactive and have acuity of vision," Lt. Gen. Moore said during the virtual speech. "In the game of baseball, three strikes and you’re out. In other endeavors — in the game of life — three strikes and you’re not out! Principle number one: never quit — attitude, self-confidence — especially in crisis and crucial times, the leader must exhibit determination to prevail."
Moore’s actions in combat set the standard for cadets at West Point to fully commit themselves to any and all assignments, with White and Guffey exemplifying that standard through their actions.
"Lt. Gen. Moore is somebody I look up to as a leader — he’s somebody who displays characteristics in leadership that I hope to emulate one day when I join the big army," White said. "As far as classes for boxing and combatives, I had a great time, especially with my classmates — pushing each other and supporting each other. The cadets I worked with really made a great environment where we supported each other’s growth as warriors and as future leaders."
Hoping to branch infantry, White remained active on the Corps Squad Basketball team for two years until recently joining the Sandhurst Military Skills Competition where she was a part of the Black and Gold squad. She excelled in all the physical activities she participated in, earning top scores in boxing and combatives and testing with a high score of 548 on the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), Col. Nicholas Gist, director of the Department of Physical Education, said.
Academic development was one of Guffey’s biggest struggles at West Point after suffering the tragic loss of his close friend Class of 2020 Cadet Christopher J. Morgan, who passed away due to injuries sustained during a military vehicle accident at a West Point training site in June 2019.
He added, despite the tragic setback, Guffey worked hard at refining his mental acuity and physical ability in the hopes of one day branching into Field Artillery. Throughout his four years at West Point, he competed with the wrestling team.
Gist added, Like White, Guffey excelled in all physical requirements receiving top scores in most classes including boxing and combatives. Moreover, he scored a high 596 on his ACFT.
"Over the last three-plus years, Beaux shared that he relies on his teammates and constantly seeks physical and mental challenges. Overcoming the loss of his teammate and multiple injuries, Beaux remains resilient and poised," Gist said of Guffey during his speech. "He embodies the warrior ethos and no doubt will make a phenomenal lieutenant next spring."
During the ceremony’s conclusion, both White and Guffey stood next to each other, holding their awards, as the audience commended them with thunderous applause.
U.S. Corps of Cadets Commandant Brig. Gen. Curtis A. Buzzard imparted words of wisdom to the awardees explaining the importance of the award and Moore’s book, ‘We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young: Ia Drang – the Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam.’
"This is a very prestigious award, and this is just a phenomenal accomplishment," Buzzard said. "This is what’s great about the Army and West Point — having cadets like these two exemplify the great example that Gen. Moore set for his unit, his troops and for his country."