11/19/2019 | By Master Sgt. Edward Yurek HHD 3-304 IN RGT, 2nd BDE, 104th Training Division
Typically the first Monday in June all the newly accepted Cadets arrive at West point to be screened, in-processed and finally sworn into the US Army. Helping with that event is the 3/304th Infantry Rgt., headquartered in Saco, Maine. Two additional companies supplement the Maine contingent, one at Ft Dix, New Jersey, and a second in Schenectady NY.
About a week prior to R-Day, 50 Soldiers from across all three companies of the 3/304th arrive at West Point to help with the transformation of Thayer Hall and a long tapeline is laid in the floor which will guide the new Cadets as they weave through the halls going from station to station.
The 3/304th Soldiers meets with the Army Band and are given assignments as height /weight tapers, hallway monitors and water supply points. A civilian staff will be checking the forms cadets are required to bring. Soldiers ranging in ranks from E3 to E8 serve in critical spaces which make the acceptance of more than 1200 cadets in one day possible.
The plan is detailed and rehearsals are conducted. Each supporting Soldier needs to know who is doing what so that talent can be interchanged as the need arrives. There is no room for backlog on a day when so many Cadets are processed through.
Once the rehearsals are done the entire plan is load tested. A request for help to the local population placed in the paper enables them to act as new Cadets.
On the Friday before R-day, more than 300 civilian personnel walk through the process to test the plan. Each is spoken to as if they were new Cadets and a rough time estimate per cadet is created. Once complete, they are fed in the Cadet chow hall.
An AAR is conducted and fine tuning is done. A retrain day is scheduled for the weekend if necessary.
At 6am Monday morning, a school bus arrives and it begins. Like clockwork, every 20 minutes, another bus arrives offloading new Cadets. The cadets are from all over the country and are greeted by the Soldiers of the 3/304th.
The first station is the shake down. After a brief description of what they need to do, each new Cadet places their bags down and starts going through their gear, taking out the items directed by an NCO. Once they have what they need they start walking the tapeline.
Soldiers of the 3/304th are placed in strategic locations to make sure no new cadets get lost. SSG Curtis stands at a three hallway intersection and divides the Cadets as they approach. The ones already wearing their Army PT uniform go upstairs, those still in civilians go left.
Further down the line is a room where the 3/304th has 20 NCO’s sitting in a room. This is the height/weight room. With a constant flow of new Cadets, they work at a feverish pace to keep the flow moving. Those over the standard are taped right away and moved along.
In the center is the TOC. Each station sends a SitRep outlining how many cadets have been screened. A goal of 120 Cadets per 30 minutes has been set. At each station, the Cadets have arm bands scanned. Should a Cadet somehow get off track and go through station 13 before station 12, Soldiers of the 3/304th act as runners returning the Cadet to the station missed. Projected on the wall is an updated count of how many Cadets have been successfully processed.
Every aspect of what a Cadet needs is addressed, equipment checked, paperwork processed, expectations stated and the process concludes with the swearing in of the new Cadets. .
SFC Belilse is at that final swearing in room. “It’s exciting to see a new Soldier start their Army Career.” Having assisted in previous R-days, Belilse is impressed with the efficiency of it all.
As the Cadets complete their inprocessing, they are assigned to a Cadet company and led into the Cadet area. No observers are allowed in this space as the new Cadets are taught by their Cadet cadre how to march.
The day concludes with the 1,230 Cadets standing together as a class for the first time, wearing the uniforms they were measured for and fitted into three hours before and marching together in unison for all to see. Day one is done.