West Point Welcomes 1,230 New Cadets on Reception Day

The Class of 2022 completes Reception Day at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, July 2, 2018. (U.S. Army photo/Mike Lopez)
The Class of 2022 completes Reception Day at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, July 2, 2018. (U.S. Army photo/Mike Lopez)

WEST POINT -- New cadets, you're in the Army now!

And should you forget this at any time on West Point's annual Reception Day, there will be one or more upperclass cadets around to remind you.

"Wipe that smirk off your face, new cadet!" one told a new arrival Monday. "There's nothing to smile about."

West Point welcomed 1,230 members of the Class of 2022 on Monday.

The rather rough introduction they received, on what is known as R-Day for short, is followed by six weeks of basic training that's so intense it long ago earned the nickname "Beast Barracks."

Cadet Jessica Maddox, who is overseeing the cadet portion of this year's introduction to West Point, said the approach prepares the cadets for the Army careers that lie ahead of them.

"Combat is stressful," Maddox said. "We provide that artificial stress from day one."

Maddox said West Point prepared for this week's heat wave, making sure there was plenty of water available everywhere, double rations of Gatorade and sunblock for cadets whose new Army-style haircuts expose their scalps to the sun.

Most cadets seemed to have at least some idea of what they were in for.

"Some people from my hometown went to West Point, and I heard about it from them," said Jordan Manley, of Tupelo, Miss. "I'm still pretty nervous, but I'm excited."

"I hear there's a lot of yelling," said Alyssa Chellanaj, of New Jersey.

But that didn't dissuade Chellanaj. She decided to apply to West Point after attending a summer leadership experience program there last year. She's hoping to go into the Army medical corps.

Manley sounded like a paid ad for West Point.

"I want to serve my country," said Manley, who ruled out the Navy and Air Force. "I didn't want to learn to fly a plane or steer a boat. I wanted to lead men."

R-Day begins at Eisenhower Hall. After a briefing, each group of new cadets is separated from the family members who came along to see them off.

"You have 60 seconds to say goodbye."

It is a tough moment for all.

One dad in a black Army t-shirt repeatedly embraced his son before he finally had to let him leave on a bus full of new cadets.

The day also includes practical matters, such as being measured for uniforms and learning the first basics of marching and following orders.

There is a certain amount of attrition each year in the six weeks that follow R-Day.

But those who make it through and stick with West Point will celebrate in mid-August with a 15-mile march back from Camp Buckner on the west end of the military reservation.

This article is written by Michael Randall from The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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