This Weekend’s Painting

This weekend I finished a few items I had started on last weekend.  The first items I completed were four regiments of light cavalry of Burgdorfreuthenheim in 10mm.  These are for Chris’ 10mm Not Quite Seven Years War project.

At Historicon I picked up some 28mm Pacific island natives from Pulp Figures.  I started these last weekend, because I didn’t have much time, and natives are pretty easy to paint quickly.

Class of 2019 March Back

Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper
Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper

Sunday and Monday, I participated as an “Old Grad” in the Beast Barracks march back.  Cadet basic training, or Beast Barracks, ends at Camp Buckner on the West Point reservation and culminates with a 12.2 mile ruck sack road march over steep and rocky hills to the West Point main campus.  This has been going on since time immemorial; although, Beast when i was a cadet ended at Lake Frederick, nearby, rather than Camp Buckner.  What is relatively new is that the Academy encourages a bunch of Old Grads to participate each year to strengthen the new cadet’s connection to the “Long Gray Line.”

We all received a briefing from the Commandant and many of the cadets leaders on West Point summer training
We all received a briefing from the Commandant and many of the cadets leaders on West Point summer training

For the “Old Grads,” the march back began with a briefing by the Commandant of Cadets and the senior summer cadet leadership about all of cadet summer training.  I will admit that when I heard about Cadet Field Training (the summer between Plebe and Yearling years) being shortened, I thought that was a mistake.  During the briefing, however, the told us that in fact those missing three weeks have been replaced with a different three week Cadet Leader Development Training, which is a three-week, Ranger school-like tactical leadership course between Cow and Firstie summers.  I think it was a good trade, and cadet summer military training is strong.

The old grads setting up their cots in Barth Hall the night before the march back
The old grads setting up their cots in Barth Hall the night before the march back

We Old Grads slept in Barth Hall at Camp Buckner on cots.  Lights out was 2200, and wake up was 0300.

Unveiling the motto for the West Point class of 2019
Unveiling the motto for the West Point class of 2019

The night before the march back, the new cadets got to relax a bit with a talent show and the unveiling of their class motto.  The talent show included a new cadet playing the bagpipes while another new cadet engaged in River Dance style dancing, a new cadet doing tricks on his yo-yo, several singers and musicians, and even a Best Barracks rap act.  During the summer, the new cadets in the class of 2018 had nominated and voted on their class motto.  At the end of the show, the final result was unveiled, and while it doesn’t rhyme, it is quite good: “So Freedom Will Reign.”

Tommy and his two Beast roommates
Tommy and his two Beast roommates

The march back begin Monday at 0230 for the new cadets and at 0300 for the old grads.  We linked up at the parade ground at Camp Buckner with the companies to which we had been assigned.  My son was in G Company, so I was able to march with his platoon.  That was doubly good, because not only did I get to march with him, but since his company was determined to be the best at Beast Barracks, his platoon was first in the order of march.  We reached the half way rest stop before the last company stepped off from the starting point.

Tommy marching alongside widow delCastillo
Tommy marching alongside widow delCastillo

A relatively new tradition is to honor a recently fallen West Point graduate by naming the new cadet regiment as Task Force ___.  The class of 2019 was Task Force del Castillo, named after a recent graduate killed in Afghanistan.  Widow del Castillo marched with our platoon — several months pregnant — and Tommy had a chance to talk to her.

The chaplain brought all the new cadets ice pops
The chaplain brought all the new cadets ice pops

The ski slope marked the final rest point before the march onto post where the rest of the corps and a strong of spectators awaited our arrival.  The chaplain’s office provided ice pops to the cadets and new cadets.

Two old guys and a young guy: from right to left Vinny O'Neil, Tommy, and me
Two old guys and a young guy: from right to left Vinny O'Neil, Tommy, and me

Except for a little more illumination during the first — and hardest — three miles of the march, we couldn’t have asked for nicer weather.  It was 63 degrees with moderate humidity.  Despite arthritis and a recent knee surgery, my knees held up fine for the march.

Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper
Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper
Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper
Tom in formation with G Co. waiting for the final two-mile march from the ski slope to West Point proper
Marching from the ski slope to West Point
Marching from the ski slope to West Point

This was an excellent event.  I am very glad I was able to participate in this with Tom.  We had a chance to talk a little on the march and a little more during the rest at the ski slope to wait for all the companies to arrive before the final two miles to West Point.  He is doing well and seems it really good spirits.

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See this little movie of Tom’s company marching onto West Point.