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A Day in the life of a West Point Sunday

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Milit ary Cade t Tuesday

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M at h tu to ri n g BY JAKE KLEIN8

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he United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., is regarded as one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the country. Its 50,000 graduates have led renowned careers in business, sports, politics, law and other fields. The academy trains officers for the U.S Army. Similar academies, at Annapolis, Md., and Colorado Springs, Colo., educate Navy and Air Force officers. Four thousand four hundred men and women make up West Point’s Corps of Cadets, the overwhelming majority of whom are men. Every cadet is physically and mentally capable of meeting the demanding curriculum of schooling and training. Cadets are organized into a military-style brigade. Each class is ranked higher than the previous one, and leadership responsibility decreases with the lower classes. Second class cadets hold the rank of cadet sergeant, third class cadets hold the rank of cadet corporal, and fourth class cadets are cadet privates. Philip Tonseth is a West Point freshman, also known as a plebe. XX | HOMEFRONT MAGAZINE

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Chem @ exam 11:00

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He graduated in 2011 from Salisbury High School in Salisbury, N.C. Tonseth’s education began in the summer of 2011. He was required to attend cadet basic training before the fall of his plebe year. He says that the 6 ½ week training period was one of the most difficult experiences he ever faced.

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Baseball game tonight!

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formation by 7 a.m. Once personal hygiene is taken care of, Tonseth must make sure to maintain his quarters and his gear. Quarters must be dust-free, and boots must be polished to a high shine. Inspections can occur at any time, and if a cadet’s personal belongings are not deemed clean, the cadet receives

Going from civilian life one day to waking up at 5:30 every morning and living such a structured life is not easy. — Philip Tonseth “Beast [the informal term for cadet basic training] was definitely difficult,” says Tonseth. “Going from civilian life one day to waking up at 5:30 every morning and living such a structured life is not easy.” Now, more than halfway through his first year, Tonseth describes his days and weeks as “patterns.” He says that on a normal day, cadets have to be in uniform and in

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demerits. If demerits accumulate, other punishments can result, ranging from cleaning to guard duty. After eating breakfast, Tonseth is consumed by schoolwork for the next few hours. While most freshmen attending colleges and universities around the country take 15 credit hours during their beginning semesters, Tonseth has averaged 18 hours his first year.

This is a cutline, the cutline goes here. Entiur, sapedi comnis repudae eum que mo et ra cullabor maio quia. Photo contributed by Philip Tonseth “The academics at West Point are one of the reasons I wanted to come here,” says Tonseth. “Classes are challenging. But growing up, a good education was always stressed by my family. West Point is one of the top universities in the country, and I’m proud to be receiving an education here.” After completing a core of arts and science classes as plebes and second-years, cadets select a major that they pursue during the rest of their career at the academy. Cadets graduate with a bachelor’s degree in the field of their choice as well as commissioning as Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army. Tuition to West Point is paid for in exchange for five years of active duty and three years of reserve status upon graduation. Cadets receive a military education in addition to a civilian one, and their military and

leadership education is taught along with their academic instruction. Tonseth says he plans on pursuing a degree in American politics, with a minor in systems engineering. “It’s a difficult degree, but there is plenty of help available if you need it,” says Tonseth. “The teachers and team leaders are here to make our lives easier.” Team leaders are second-year mentors, and Tonseth says that communication with them is an essential part of learning how to succeed at West Point. “If I had a question about something in one of my courses or how to properly shine my shoes, I would ask my team leader first,” says Tonseth. “We can’t just bring questions to anyone. We have to learn how to bring problems up the chain of command.” Cutting class is not permitted at

This is a cutline, the cutline goes here. Entiur, sapedi comnis repudae eum que mo et ra . Photo contributed by Philip Tonseth JULY 2012 | XX


West Point, and the result for doing so is demerits. Classes usually end around 4 p.m., at which point cadets participate in something with their company, such as intramural sports, personal exercise time or tutoring. Tonseth, an avid baseball fan, was elected head manager of the varsity baseball team. “I’ve always loved baseball, so becoming the team manager was a no-brainer for me,” says Tonseth. “I set up the practice, travel with them to away games and take care of the video during games. I also get to enjoy the facilities, which are much nicer than our close-quarter dorms.” Cadets cannot leave campus unless granted permission, and besides the few times when plebes are allowed to leave campus — which Tonseth says most plebes use to travel home — most cadets use weekends to try to catch up on

Ulysses S. Grant

Douglas MacArthur

XX | HOMEFRONT MAGAZINE

dT rain Tues ing day 4-6 pm

This is a cutline, the cutline goes here. Entiur, sapedi comnis repudae eum que mo et ra cullabor maio. Photo contributed by Philip Tonseth work, relax and exercise. Tonseth says that while he misses some things a non-service academy would offer, the relationships he is developing at West Point make the hardships worthwhile. “Most people would never considering going to school here,” says

Tonseth. “Those people don’t understand that you wouldn’t develop the same closeness and camaraderie at any other school.” “People shouldn’t look at [West Point] like a prison — we know how to have a good time, too. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Famous West Point Alumni

General in Chief, Armies of the United States; President of the United States, 1869-77.

Army Chief of Staff 1930-35; Supreme Commander of the Pacific 1941-45

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Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin

Astronaut 1963-72; participated in the first manned lunar landing.

George S. Patton, Jr. Member of the 1912 U.S. Olympic Team; commanding general of the 7th Army 194244

Robert E. Lee

General in Chief: Confederate Armies; president of Washington & Lee University 1865-70

Dwight D. Eisenhower President of Columbia University 1948; President of the United States 1953-61.


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