Planning and prepping never stop at West Point as the cadet cadre organized the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School Reception Day experience for future cadet candidates on Monday.
Similar to USMAʼs Reception Day, this yearʼs USMAPS R-Day welcomed 218 young hopefuls who, after inprocessing, will endure a condensed version of Cadet Basic Training, spending three weeks on the basics of rifle marksmanship, land navigation and other tasks to become part of the USMAPS Class of 2023, which down the road can lead to the USMA Class of 2027.
The planning and coordination of this event allowed cadet cadre from the USMA Classes of 2023 and 2024 to expand their knowledge and build leadership skills as they readied themselves for their final two years at the academy.
For that reason, the cadet cadre endured extensive training before the cadet candidates arrived.
“The first step is training the trainerʼs making sure that our squad leaders and platoon sergeants are capable of training these candidates coming in,ˮ Class of 2023 Cadet Harry Combs, the USMAPS detail cadet charlie company commander, said. “What we want to do is properly introduce the candidates to the Army, introduce them to the West Point lifestyle, because for a lot of them, this is their first exposure to military life.ˮ
Combs added that the Leadership Training Program was one of the training events that gave him the tools he needed to prepare candidates for USMAPS R-Day.
“The first two weeks of LTP felt like I was drinking from a firehose,ˮ Combs said. “As I prepare to become a second lieutenant, the lead up to the USMAPS R-Day experience helped me understand everything that goes into all the little planning considerations, things you wouldnʼt think about. For example, today we discussed which hand the cadet candidates were going to hold their knowledge books in.ˮ
Combs said that he also learned about the Army staff shops that support the militaryʼs system of command, organization and strategic implementations through personnel, intelligence and logistics, among other components.
“Overall, Iʼve gotten a better understanding through my platoon mentor, Staff Sgt. Hamilton, on what my role is as a company commander,ˮ Combs said. “From my leadership position down to the squad leaders, I have a solid understanding of what part we play in getting the cadet candidates properly trained before they start USMAPS.ˮ
An essential part of getting the candidates properly trained for USMAPS is understanding the importance of teamwork and learning pivotal lessons from USMA graduates who once walked in their footsteps.
“The first thing that was the most important to the cadre was to build the team,ˮ Class of 2023 Cadet Deana Arbelaez, the USMAPS detail cadet command sergeant major, said. “Through teamwork and fellowship, we were able to establish team camaraderie. Also, we are always trying to put into perspective what we are working so hard for and this year we are honoring our Task Force with 1st Lt. Thomas Martin, a former prepster who was killed in action.ˮ
On Oct. 14, 2007, Martin, while serving a deployment in Al Busayifi, Iraq, sustained life-threatening injuries after an attack from insurgents during combat operations. Since then, Martinʼs legacy as a leader at West Point has left a profound mark on cadet cadre who wish to lead selflessly the way Martin did 15 years ago.
With that in mind, Martinʼs selfless sacrifice shaped the cadre's training mentality, allowing them to execute their task effectively so that cadet candidates get the best out of their experience when they arrive for USMAPS R-Day.
“One of the things we loved about honoring 1st Lt. Martinʼs life was the fact that he was a prepster, and he walked in the shoes of what many of our cadet candidates are going to walk through,ˮ Arbelaez said. “So, whenever we noticed our cadre was starting to feel defeated or demoralized, we always reminded ourselves of why weʼre all doing this. We would do a battalion run to 1st Lt. Martinʼs headstone just to remember what it means to fully commit yourself.ˮ
By and large, Class of 2023 Cadet Marley Wait, the USMAPS detail cadet company commander, feels every member of the cadet cadre stepped up and gave it their all to ensure the cadet candidatesʼ USMAPS R-Day experience was executed without a hitch.
“The most rewarding aspect has been seeing each leader take charge of their respective echelon. Altogether, weʼre a big team, but each company has its own distinct character, which has been really interesting to watch as they develop,ˮ Wait concluded. “The company commanders that Iʼm in charge of have really been stepping up and making their companies their own, and itʼs been great to see each team develop in a unique way.ˮ