This is the time of year parents of 2nd class cadets, or juniors, who are trying out for the Summerall Guard begin to get really nervous. There isn’t a lot of information of the topic. I found the Wikipedia information to be very helpful in explaining the process.
If you are interested in how I handled this my son’s BVA year, you can read by previous blog post for Off the Base and this blog too. The best advice is to let your son contact you. They are too busy and exhausted right now to be in touch a lot. Check the Training schedule for the key dates like Cuts day that takes place in the Second Phase. From the Wikipedia site regarding Cuts Day:
- Perfection of the drill is also stressed and much time is spent by the aspirants outside of the designated times perfecting the drill. At the end of the second phase there is a final “Cuts Day” where the aspirants are graded on their drill proficiency and for each mistake a cut is assigned. Each BVA squad is moved from one station to another where they are instructed to complete different version of The Series. A total of eight Guard graders are assigned to each station, one for each member of the squad, to assign cuts for any mistakes made. When a squad has completed their last station on Cuts Day their time in the second phase ends. Each aspirant’s total number of cuts, from both Cuts Runs and Cuts Day, are tallied by the Guard leadership at the conclusion of Cuts Day.
I found most of the photos and video through the Facebook pages of my son’s friends who sent me friend requests over the years. The photos include cadets who are now graduates of the school. I’ll admit when I first viewed the video it was a bit disturbing. How could anyone function with all that yelling going on. I watched the clip about 8 times before I realized what was going on. In the following clip you will see a squad of 2011 BVA’s in formation being yelled at by the 2010 Summerall Guards on Cuts Day. Each BVA is wearing a number. They are going through part of a series of the silent drill.
If you listen carefully you will hear a BVA in the second row yelling commands. It is hard to discern this at first because of the yelling going on. What surprised me after viewing this was that I actually began to understand what was happening. I could explain to my friends that this clip demonstrates the focus needed to ignore the yelling and listen for that one voice you were to pay attention to. This same focus and ability to listen for instructions would be needed in a combat situation.
I also was reminded by my Citadel alumni friends throughout the process that these 2nd Class (or junior) cadets volunteered to go through this training. No one is required to go out for, or stay in, the BVA process. Even with this explanation I don’t doubt some viewers will still be confused by what they are seeing in the following video. I came to terms with the fact that it didn’t matter whether I fully understood this process or not. It was my sons decision to be a BVA. He is an adult, and my role then, as it is now that he is in the Army, is to respect his decision and support him as I can. Some cadets begin the process but need to drop out because they have to keep grades up or other important obligations, like scholarship duties. More than one BVA has told me their grades dipped during the year.
So with the previous caveat that the process IS very tough, here is a video from Cuts Day
If you have a BVA you’ve probably heard the various names of the squads. Each one has their own tradition of how they proceed during their training. The Duckbutts are the last squad and since they line up from tallest to shortest, they are the shortest squad. Be sure to ask your cadet which group they are in. They identify themselves by numbers like 3A2 which designates their position within the Summerall Guard.
As hard as his BVA year was I’ve heard my son tell people that it was his best year. He was the first sergeant of his company that year, and a BVA, and carried a heavy academic load, so it was a year filled with serious responsibility. Even with all the exhausting physical training he and his fellow BVA’s endured, they still look back on the experience with a smile on their face. Once they are Summerall Guards they have quite a few performances, some fun like the Azalea Festival, halftime at football games and Mardi Gras. They also perform in other venues for other groups that aren’t quite as much fun. In addition to the performances they are training the new crop of BVA’s so the time commitment is considerable senior year as well. It all ends for the Summerall Guard on Corps Day when they pass their rifle on to the next class.
A few photos from February 2010 follow.