CDT Ingwell shows some Wisconsin school pride during her seven mile regimental run to complete Cadet Field Training at West Point.

Cadet Field Training - CDT Ingwell, 2012

Over the summer I had the unique opportunity to do four weeks of training at the US Military Academy in West Point, NY. I went into it knowing very little of what to expect as did the other ROTC cadets I met there.

After a few flight delays, I arrived on the campus early in the morning to find what looked like Hogwarts. The first two days were spent on campus with the other ROTC cadets, giving us a little time to explore. On the third day, the USMA cadets arrived and we were shipped to Camp Buckner a few miles away from campus where the remainder of our training took place. There were approximately 90 ROTC cadets, 1100 USMA cadets, about 20 foreign cadets, and even a handful of Naval Academy cadets. We were immediately split into companies, platoons, and squads and started to get to know each other. Although I am class of 2014 I was being integrated into the class of 2015’s training and the classes of 2013-14 USMA cadets were in all the leadership roles and were not moved around. I was simply a squad member.

Training started pretty quick and one of the first events was dry and wet obstacle courses. The dry had 19 obstacles of varying difficulty and I was thankfully able to pass them all. The wet course involved a balance beam about 20 feet above the water and included a 75 meter zip line across the lake that started about 50 feet high and ended with you falling in the water. Very fun.

Next came the first FTX. It was three days of patrol base ops which started out with a ruck march up a mountain. Then we immediately set up 360 security and waited. We would do a few missions out of the base and then return to security until we would make our movements at night. Then came the rain, every day, and with no hooches allowed, we were inevitably soaked.

Other training included basic soldier skills like marksmanship, land navigation, radio ops, casualty care, urban ops (MOUT), IED training, and intro to field artillery. I learned a ton about IEDs and on field artillery day we were able to fire the 105mm howitzer and 60 mm mortars and also learned how to call for fire as a forward observer. These were easily the best two days of the training. The urban ops ended with a firing team live fire room clear, which was great realistic training.

The last week included our final FTX which was much like the first one, rain and all, but with even less sleep and food. However, our final mission involved us loading onto a CH-47 Chinook and flying around for a bit before being dropped off at our new location. It was my first time flying in a helicopter and we got great views of the mountains and the Hudson River.

The final day came and we did a seven mile regimental run back to the West Point campus. It was a relief to be done and although it was a long slow run back, it was full of energy.

Overall, my time at West Point was a great, interesting experience. I got to meet new people, visit a beautiful campus, learn what it is like to go to a military academy, and experience the awfulness of climbing mountains everywhere I went. Although a great experience, I am thankful for where I go to school and would not trade any of it to go West Point.