Massive Search Effort Widens for West Point Cadet Who Vanished with M4 Carbine

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Alumni and parents are treated to a U.S. Military Academy at West Point cadet review and drill team demonstration as part of Homecoming and Family Weekend, Oct. 20, 2018. (U.S. Army photo/Matthew Moeller)
Alumni and parents are treated to a U.S. Military Academy at West Point cadet review and drill team demonstration as part of Homecoming and Family Weekend, Oct. 20, 2018. (U.S. Army photo/Matthew Moeller)

U.S. Military Academy officials have ramped up their search efforts for a cadet who disappeared Friday with an M4 carbine, enlisting the help of soldiers from Fort Drum, New York, in the manhunt.

The cadet was preparing to compete in military skills events in an attempt to be selected for the Sandhurst Military Skills Competition next spring, Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, a spokesman for the academy at West Point, New York, told Military.com.

"They do ruck marches, land navigation. There is some rifle marksmanship; there is some obstacle-course stuff," he said, describing the train-up for the Sandhurst international competition.

"They had drawn their weapons to start going out. He was right outside the barracks, which is where the arms rooms are," Ophardt added.

Related: Authorities Searching for Missing West Point Cadet

West Point officials stressed that they do not believe that the missing cadet is a threat to others, but he may be a danger to himself.

"He left his rucksack, Kevlar helmet and all of his magazines," said Ophardt, who would not elaborate on why school officials believe the cadet may want to harm himself.

Despite the frenzy of activity, West Point is operating under normal conditions with an increased force protection status, according to a recent news release.

About 130 soldiers from Drum's 23rd Military Police Company arrived at West Point on Monday to join a search effort of roughly 400 personnel that includes state and local law enforcement, as well as West Point staff and faculty, Ophardt told Military.com.

Military helicopters along with New York State Police helicopters and drones are conducting an aerial sweep using cameras and Forward-Looking Infrared Radar, according to the release.

New York State Police dive teams have been using sonar to help search in the Hudson River, as well as lakes and ponds on the West Point grounds, the release states.

The search effort has covered more than 2,000 acres in the West Point cantonment area.

"We are confining the search to the cantonment area because that's where we believe, based on the evidence, he is," Ophardt said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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