R-Day 2018 was certainly a memorable day at West Point. Not only did 1,210 new cadets from the Class of 2022 take their first steps toward becoming leaders of character, but LTG Darryl A. Williams ’83 assumed command of the United States Military Academy as its 60th Superintendent. Furthermore, General Mark A. Milley, the 39th Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army, was on post to take part in the new Superintendent’s Assumption of Command ceremony, and he took time afterward to witness the transformative events of R-Day. Despite these extraordinary happenings, R-Day 2018 will perhaps be remembered most by something that has certainly affected R-Days of years past—a brutal heatwave that has settled over the Hudson Valley.
By the time most of the new cadets had finished their in-processing with Thayer Hall and filed into the cadet area dressed in the black Army PT uniforms and carrying nearly 50lbs of gear, the air temperature was feeling like 103 degrees Fahrenheit. “We knew the heat was coming and put contingencies in place,” said Cadet Jessica Maddox ’19, the “Queen of Beast” (or Cadet Basic Training Regimental Commander). As soon as cadets crossed Thayer Road after their in-processing, they immediately filled their CamelBaks at an M-149 Water Buffalo. “We’ve also put up camo netting in company areas to create shade and provided sunscreen in each company bathroom,” said Maddox. The latter was particularly useful for the male cadets coming back from the barbershop. Finally, new cadets were provided with double rations of Gatorade and nutrition bars, and the cadet cadre were tracking their consumption of these snacks (officially called “supplements”) to be ensure that the new cadets were consuming liquids and foods according to Army heat category guidelines.
While the new cadets will have 47 months to learn and live West Point’s famous three-word motto, “Duty, Honor, Country,” they quickly mastered another three-word response that was echoing all over Central Area on R-Day in response to orders from their cadre: “Beat the heat!”