FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets from 5th Regiment, Advanced Camp complete their Cadet Summer Training journey by setting out on a 12-mile ruck at Fort Knox, Ky., July 18, 2023. The 12-mile ruck is the last event Cadets must finish before they graduate from Advanced Camp. It allows Cadets a time to reflect on their experiences at CST, the lessons they learned, and the connections they have made along the way. “The 12-mile ruck is basically a battle march from our last phase of the field, the Grizzly phase,” said Cadet Meghan Shelatz, Liberty University. “We walk as a whole entire […]
FORT KNOX, Ky. – Cadets from 5th Regiment, Advanced Camp complete their Cadet Summer Training journey by setting out on a 12-mile ruck at Fort Knox, Ky., July 18, 2023.
The 12-mile ruck is the last event Cadets must finish before they graduate from Advanced Camp. It allows Cadets a time to reflect on their experiences at CST, the lessons they learned, and the connections they have made along the way.
“The 12-mile ruck is basically a battle march from our last phase of the field, the Grizzly phase,” said Cadet Meghan Shelatz, Liberty University. “We walk as a whole entire regiment, Alpha through Delta companies, in a tactical formation.”
Starting at 2100 and ending at 0100 the next morning, the 12-mile ruck is completed almost entirely in pitch black; additionally, all Cadets must carry the majority of their equipment. Thus, many elements of the 12-mile ruck challenge the Cadets physically and mentally.
“We carry pretty much full Battle Rattle, except we don’t have our [Advanced Combat Helmet],” Shelatz said. “There’s a 35-pound ruck, a 25-pound [Fighting Load Carrier] on us, and we have our M4 rifles. It’s pretty rough on the shoulders. It starts to burn about three or four miles in, but you just kind of dig deep and just keep pushing through.”
Some Cadets find the inspiration to finish the battle march by relying on their battle buddies and keeping morale high.
“Honestly, my favorite part was just walking around with the rest of my platoon,” said Shelatz. “I’m the platoon leader for the day and I just feel super blessed to have an awesome platoon by my side, knowing that we’re all going through it together. My platoon’s morale has been good. We’ve had fun together, and we’ve had some sucky days in the rain, but we’re super hyped to finish it.”
Throughout CST, Cadets are constantly together, so they have had time to build long-lasting relationships with others in their squad, platoon, or regiment. Additionally, Cadets have Cadre that supports and advises them for all 35 days of Advanced Camp.
Sgt. 1st Class Manuel Lamegos, 5th Regiment Charlie Company, is a Cadre member, who has seen Cadets build relationships throughout CST.
“It was definitely different for them when they got to know each other as a team at the beginning,” said Lamegos. “They didn’t know who they were. They came from all different parts of the country, and now they get to go to the field together as a team, bond together, and then end together. The only reward we get is to see them grow, develop, and go through all these challenges and finish as one.”
Cadets have learned many ideas and techniques during their time at CST, some of these ideas being the importance of trust between teammates and the opportunities to move forward together.
“You try your best and if you succeed, great. If you fail, great. The best lesson is just to be there for each other and build each other up,” said Shelatz. “You got to keep constant motion–that’s something that’s applicable while rucking and applicable in life. There are going to be things that seem insurmountable, but as long as you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you’re going to get through it no matter what.”
Having completed the last event at CST, with only platoon photos and graduation to go, the Cadets from 5th Regiment, Advanced Camp will soon become Commissioned Officers in the United States Army. As she moves to the next steps in her journey, Shelatz reflected on her time at CST and suggested advice to future Cadets.
“It was honestly, a really difficult 35 days, but it was 35 of some of the best days of my life so far,” said Shelatz. “The relationships that you build by embracing the suck with each other is insurmountable, and I genuinely am sad that it’s over. You’re going to wish it away, but once you get to that final phase, you’ve really grown close to those people.”
Rosalita Mitchell is a junior from Greenwood, IN, attending Ball State University. She is majoring in journalism with a concentration in mass communications, as well as minoring in anthropology. This summer, Mitchell is a member of both the social media and photojournalism teams. She expects to learn new technical skills and further her knowledge in the journalism field. In her free time, Mitchell likes to listen to true crime podcasts, reading, and exercising.