The 8th Regiment, Advanced Camp cadets woke up early to execute a 6-mile ruck march, July 14, during Cadet Summer Training on Fort Knox. This was to prepare cadets for the pass/fail 12-mile ruck march in a few weeks.

"It's important for our training so we can build ourselves up to the point where we can do 12 miles. We're trying to make sure that everyone starts off with a good baseline," said cadet Samantha Frank, Texas A&M. "A lot of people from different schools don't have hills like they do here in Kentucky. So, we're just trying to make sure we're all on the same page when it comes to rucking."

The 6-mile ruck march was performed in full gear. Cadets' rucks consist of many things from their packing list including a poncho, trenching tools, food, water, extra clothes, toiletries, boots, wet weather gear, weapon. The cadet's ruck weighed around 45 to 50 pounds.

"It's just something you've got to do, especially as a leader," explained cadet Keith Jackson, University of Denver. "You want to be able to do it and be there for your subordinates. You can't lead if you're falling behind."

The ruck is a longer and more strenuous activity than other training, taxing the mind and body. During the ruck, cadets must find ways to motivate one another as well as themselves.

"We're all motivating each other," said Frank. "A lot of what motivates me is just watching the people around me pushing other people … (so) I think everybody motivates each other. We're all here as a team trying to build each other up and make sure that no one falls out. Making sure your buddies left and right stay in is what motivates the whole team."

Other cadets are mo- tivated not only by the camaraderie of the unit, but also by their families.

"What motivates me is my wife … Also, my comrades back in Puerto Rico, the ones who are still here in Advanced Camp and my family," said cadet Cristhin Rivera, University of Puerto Rico. "I don't want to fail them. I want to make them proud.

"It's not always easy, but when stuff gets difficult I think of my family," said Jackson. "For me, family is a big thing and I think of my daughter. Family is what it all comes down to, I think. That's why everyone in the military, I think, does what they do. They want to make the world a better place and defend their country, but it all comes down to family. You wouldn't do it if it wasn't for them. For me, that's what keeps me going; my wife, my daughter and the rest of my family with my siblings and parents."

Depending on the situation, sometimes cadets realize that it can be difficult to motivate one another.

"It's all about timing," explained Rivera. "Some people are so tired, exhausted and overheated. They just don't want somebody else beside them saying, 'hey, it's going to be OK. It's alright. You can do it' ...they're going to shut you out. It's all about timing, being positive and being that person in the background who gives that guy a push."

After completing the ruck march, cadets had advice for future cadets and the universities as well.

"Practice, practice, practice," said Rivera. "If there are colleges out there that aren't doing ruck marches every week, you're ruining your cadets. Pump them up from the bottom to the top. Start from 2-miles, 4-miles, 6-miles and, eventually, a 12-mile (ruck march)."

Now that this leg of practice rucking is complete, cadets will continue their training on the path to becoming future leaders.

Photo by Madison Thompson, USACC intern

Fort Knox's 8th Regiment Advanced Camp cadets march during the 6-mile ruck march during Cadet Summer Training July 14. The cadets marched 6 miles to prepare for the 12-mile ruck march.