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March Back For the Class of 2022

As it was for their R-Day six weeks ago, weather was front and center for the Class of 2022’s March Back from Camp Buckner, the annual 12-plus mile trek that signals the end of Cadet Basic Training. Yet, instead of the sweltering heat of R-Day, the new cadets had to deal with the threat of a torrential downpour. But luckily the skies didn’t open up until all CBT companies had passed Quarters 100 and found respite in front of Washington Hall.

[WPAOG PHOTOS ON FLICKR]    [WP PHOTOS ON FLICKR]

This year, 257 Old Grads, representing 46 West Point classes, marched with the new cadets from the Class of 2022, including 66 from the Class of 1972, their 50-Year Affiliation Class. “It was a neat experience to support the new cadets in their March Back,” said LTC (R) Duston Saunders ’72. “It’s something we never thought about when we were new cadets marching back from Beast, and suddenly we are 50 years out and looking forward to shadowing and supporting the Class of 2022 for the next four years.”

 In his first address to members of the Long Gray Line since assuming command of West Point, LTG Darryl Williams ’83, the 60th Superintendent, stressed the importance of supporting cadets in their leader development. “Developing leaders of character is a team sport, and everyone who works or serves here is a steward of the character development process,” Williams said, “and every member of the Long Gray Line shares in this stewardship.” He went on to say that Old Grads encouraged and motivated the new cadets just by their willingness to march. “Your simply being here illustrates your support to this institution and commitment to the development of these future leaders,” the Superintendent told graduates at a luncheon following the March Back.

Cadet David Bindon ’19, who was recently selected First Captain of the U.S. Military Academy’s Corps of Cadets for the 2018-2019 academic year, agrees with the Superintendent’s assessment. “Old Grads are an inspiration for the Corps of Cadets,” he told a group of reporters at the conclusion of the March Back. “There are a lot of tough responsibilities here at West Point, and we learn a lot listening to their experiences and what they got out of them here.”

One of the Old Grads who never fails to inspire is LTC (R) Wallace Ward ’58, who has marched in every March Back since grads were allowed to do so 19 years ago. He even led the Long Gray Line in the 2017 March Back for the Class of 2021. “My yearly advice to cadets is to study hard, accumulate the tenths, and watch what you do, because everything counts at West Point.” At 86-years old, Ward runs four to six miles every day and has completed 10 marathons, which should be an inspiration for everyone. This training led him to say that this year’s March Back was “pretty easy.” The hardest one? “The first one—it was full of thunder, lightning, and lots of rain.” Thank Odin the rain held off just long enough for this year’s March Back.