Valley Forge Military Academy and College

At VFMAC, the Crucible is the defining line between being a plebe and becoming a Cadet. While there are other requirements of passage to earn the coveted Cadet-only capshield, the Crucible is inarguably the most difficult.

The series of activities designed to test both mettle and fitness of plebes is also intended to demonstrate what the plebes have learned over the six or so weeks of training. The day-long challenge is an individual and a team effort – meaning they must support one another to succeed.

“PT is part of the daily schedule and Physical Development is a Cornerstone at VFMAC,” said Garrison Sergeant Major (Ret) William Mott, OBE, MVO. “The Crucible is an extension of what they have been training for since they arrived.”

Starting early, this winter class began the day face down on the football field demonstrating how many pushups they could do in three minutes and whether they could hold a plank for up to four minutes. Several did as many as 30 pushups and demonstrated, yes, they could hold the plank for four minutes.

On their feet again, they ran a mile before heading off to the obstacle course. A combination of speed and dexterity is required here to navigate the hurdles, rope climb, cable bridge, and tunnel crawl.

After the O-course, the cannon pull awaited. More than just the physical challenge, the cannon pull requires coordinated team work. “These young men have come together over the last several weeks, bonding and recognizing individual success only happens when the team succeeds,” said GSM Mott.

The rifle range tested their target shooting skills. After an intense safety brief and under the watchful eyes of individual instructors, each plebe took his shot.

Throughout the day, they fortified with snacks and kept well-hydrated. The pool helped. There they plunged into the warm water carrying a synthetic rifle and swam two lengths of the pool with guards in the water and at the pool’s edge.

Back on dry land and now onto the parade grounds, the task awaiting them there made the cannon pull look like a feather lift. On the track was a 5,200 pound Humvee. Working as a team, the plebes needed to successfully push the vehicle around the parade grounds not once but twice. They did – successfully.

And just that fast, the Crucible was done and a Mission BBQ warrior meal was ready. The class of plebes had successfully completed the most challenging exercise toward the capshield. In subsequent weeks, their knowledge will be tested, their behavior and conduct monitored and evaluated, and when the group is ready, the Commandant of Cadets will issue the capshield marking them as full-fledged Cadets.

“They did well,” said GSM Mott. “They are different people then they were when they arrived – now physically fit, now collaborative and working as a team, now well on their way to becoming the best version of themselves. As Commandant, I couldn’t be more proud.”