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Cadets wrap up 'Beast Barracks' training with 12-mile West Point march

With family and West Point community members cheering them on, U.S. Military Academy at West Point Class of 2022 conducted their 12-mile march back, concluding six weeks of Cadet Basic Training on Aug. 13, 2018. The six-week training is notoriously difficult, and often referred to as "Beast Barracks."

BRYAN ILYANKOFF/U.S. ARMY PHOTO

By MICHAEL RANDALL | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: August 14, 2018

WEST POINT, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — On July 2, 1,210 young men and women showed up at West Point, hoping to become members of the Class of 2022.

On Monday, 1,192 of them took part in the 12-mile march back from Camp Buckner on the west end of West Point, following the conclusion of their first basic training.

If you're doing the math, that's about a 1.5 percent attrition rate.

Not bad for a basic training so legendarily tough it's known as Beast Barracks.

And as they marched, parents and other family members lined up along West Point's main roads to cheer them on.

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The West Point Band led the way as they neared the end of the march, playing "The Army Goes Rolling Along" and other military marching tunes.

Janet and Rob DeLaubell, of Cheshire, Conn., were among those cheering loudly. Their son Ben was one of the 1,192.

The DeLaubells have had little contact with Ben in the past six weeks – just a couple phone calls – and they'll have to wait until the Acceptance Day parade on Saturday before they can have a real reunion.

On Monday, they had to settle for a quick glimpse as he passed by.

"This is harder on the parents than the kids," Janet DeLaubell said. "I wish we could see and talk to him now."

The new cadets were joined on the march by Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams and other top West Point administrators, and members of the Class of 1972, the 50-year affiliate class of the new freshmen.

The two classes will share a special relationship through the next four years, as do all West Point classes and their 50-year predecessors.

Some lined the road to cheer on the "old grads."

Stephanie and Brian Pavlick of the Class of 1996, their sons, William, Luke and Michael, and Brian's mother, Barbara, were all there to cheer for Class of 1972 member Bill Pavlick.

"I remember how inspiring it was to see friends and family on the road," Stephanie Pavlick recalled of her march back. "Now it's inspiring to see the next generation come through."

Mahed Shahata, of Staten Island, a native of Egypt, was attending her third march back, watching her daughter Menna Mohamed become the latest family member in the Long Gray Line.

Another daughter, Amira, is in the Class of 2020, and a stepson was in the Class of 2016.

"She's excited to start classes next week. But she's more excited to be with her sister," Shahata said.

©2018 The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.
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