More than 1,200 Class of 2025 cadets awoke before the break of dawn to prepare themselves for the March Back that spanned 12.09 miles from Lake Frederick to the U.S. Military Academyʼs central area on Monday.
March Back was the final obstacle for the new cadets as Cadet Basic Training or, “Beast,” came to an end.
“This experience is really awesome because, throughout the six weeks of Beast, all the cadre have done an incredible job getting us acclimated to the Army lifestyle. They built us from the ground up, taught us discipline and every day, during training, we learned something new,” new cadet Giovanni Biondo said. “From R-Day to March Back, I’ve learned so much from honing in on military skills to working with my friends as a team on a squad and platoon level.”
March Back was essentially a dismounted movement to meet USMA and the U.S. Corps of Cadets senior leaders’ intent to complete the graduation requirement of a 12-mile foot march and forge camaraderie as a class.
Each new cadet and cadre member carried with them 35 to 40 pounds of issued equipment in their rucksacks along with all the sustainment supplies they brought with them to Lake Frederick.
New cadet Peter Mura said he was invigorated by his team, Hotel Company, during March Back which also fell on his birthday. While H Company shouted their company motto, “Nobody likes us,” along the trail, Mura was fired up and ready to reach the end triumphantly, believing this would be a fitting way to celebrate his birthday.
Initially, when he enrolled at West Point out of curiosity, he did not understand the magnitude of his decision. Nevertheless, as Mura excelled during Beast, his purpose became solidified: to serve and defend the United States.
“I feel, in some cases, everyone who enrolls in the Army doesn’t always do it to be highspeed. Some people, initially, didn’t just sign up here because they love their country and I used to include myself in that category,” Mura said. “I love the United States. It’s the greatest country, which was a motivation coming here, but it definitely wasn’t my main motivation, but after coming here and meeting all my battle buddies and all the cadre who are investing their time and resources to make me a refined Soldier and a better person as a whole, my mentality changed. That experience fired me up, and it inspires me to do more for my country. It inspires me to lead the nation to a better place.”
Midway during March Back, members of the USMA Class of 1975 joined in the 12-mile trek to motivate and inspire the new cadets. In addition, some grads joined to support grandchildren who aimed to continue the tradition of service to the country.
“(The USMA Class of 1975) are the epitome of what it means to be a team and they showed that as they continued to support the West Point team, the Army team and even after they’ve retired and left the Army, they’re still here supporting us today, and that’s a part of the enduring legacy of serving one’s country,” Class of 2022 Cadet and First Captain Holland Pratt said. “I actually got to do a project last semester about women’s integration into the academy, and some of those women participated in the March Back today. So, seeing them in the formation after March Back just made me so immensely proud. They are such an inspiration to me and they have formed the basis for me to take the lead, not only as a female here, but as a leader in general.”
As Pratt watched the new cadets march in front of the Commandant’s quarters, she remembered her experience as a new cadet marching along the same street and feeling that sense of accomplishment as friends and family cheered her on.
Thus, Pratt said she was immensely proud to see how far the new cadets had come since Reception Day.