With white tape across his back spelling out the E in "3-Peat!," Daine Van de Wall marched to the center of the field at Lincoln Financial Field. Joined by his six fellow prisoners who had spent the semester studying at the Naval Academy, Van de Wall was being traded back to the U.S. Military Academy so he could cheer on the Army Football team along with the Corps of Cadets during the 2018 Army-Navy game.
This year, Van de Wall will once again make that march across the field, but instead of serving as a prisoner, he will lead the captive midshipmen to be traded and receive back the cadets as the First Captain of the U.S. Military Academy Corps of Cadets. As First Captain, Van de Wall, a member of the Class of 2020, is the brigade commander of the 4,400 members of the Corps of Cadets for the 2019-20 academic year. It is a role he has built up to throughout his time at West Point.
The responsibilities took a big jump forward when as a cow he spent a semester at the Naval Academy and served as a squad leader where he was placed in charge of 12 midshipmen, while learning the ways of a new academy himself.
"Honestly, sometimes, it was very difficult mainly because I didn't understand the standards and some of the rules they had there," Van de Wall said. "Working with the company leadership there with my fellow midshipmen, and my roommate specifically, really got me through that and I was able to teach them some of the things we do at Army, while also taking away some of the great things they do at the Naval Academy."
This past summer, he had his final audition for a brigade level command while serving as the command sergeant major for Cadet Field Training. There, his job was to enforce the daily standards and expectations for the cadets leading and taking part in the training. Read more.