Leader’s Training Course
UW Oshkosh MS IV
Ever since high school I always wanted to do something with the military; I just never knew exactly what opportunities existed. I enrolled at Oshkosh to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. It wasn’t until my junior year in college when I decided to act on my desire from high school to pursue the military as a profession.
I started by talking with the cadre on what ROTC was all about and what it can do for me in the future. The only problem is that I was on track to graduate in four years and I missed out on the first two years of ROTC. They had a solution. There is a program called Leader’s Training Course (LTC). LTC is a 28-day summer camp at Fort Knox, KY that takes the place of the first two years of ROTC.
This was an experience I’ll never forget. LTC is an introduction to the Army training program that teaches essential skills and knowledge to cadets so they are prepared for the upcoming years. Coming from a guy who had no prior military background, this was no walk in the park. I learned from Drill Sergeants as well as newly commissioned Second Lieutenants. It was both challenging and fun throughout the whole camp. I learned things I never would have if I didn’t sign up for this course. Cadets are taught how to land navigate, cross streams using rope bridges, and learn proper military fundamentals. I had the most fun learning how to shoot an M-16 rifle, rappel from a 40 foot tower, rafting, and conducting squad tactical exercises using paintball guns.
LTC is both mentally and physically draining but 100% rewarding. You learn so much about the military and about yourself. It was an eye opening experience that I’d recommend anyone to try.
Ripon College MS IV
I joined ROTC in the middle of my freshman year as a non-contracted cadet and I didn’t have a clue what was going on since I had no military background in my family. Cadet Chris took me under his wing and made sure I knew how to read a map, understood drill and ceremonies, and basic military customs and courtesies. After “playing soldier” for a semester, I realized I wanted to be a soldier.
We are all just a group of friends, with a common purpose, who have class together and every Thursday we get to run around the woods and train hard to become outstanding Army officers. We all help each other out when in need. Moving to Wisconsin from Arizona without a car was a challenge when I needed items off campus. Out of all my friends on campus, it seems as though the only people who were willing to help me were my ROTC friends. Cadet Joe drove me forty-five minutes out of town to get a pair of running shoes. Cadet Chris also helped me move my futon from the store to my dorm last semester.
This sense of camaraderie that I have developed with my fellow cadets is the most important thing to me. I believe that if you have that strong bond, then anything is possible. Teamwork, respect, loyalty and courtesy are all elements needed to achieve a sense of brotherhood with your peers.
As a tour guide for my college I have the unique opportunity to explain ROTC to prospective students. I say that ROTC is more than a job, it is about learning. It can be like any other class in college, where you go to class to learn something useful, and apply it later that week in lab. Or it can be the beginning of a career. I end by saying “If you meet the prerequisite then pull up a chair and start taking notes.” ROTC will provide you with valuable learning and a lifetime journey. The journey may lead you to specialize in different fields like intelligence, medicine or even law. You will be able to serve your country while seeing the world. As we say around campus, “ROTC is the smartest college course you can take.”
Saint Norbert College MS IV
I am currently a Cadet in the Fox Valley Battalion, and I recently had the privilege of attending The Sabalauski Air Assault School in Fort Campbell, Kentucky over Christmas Vacation. The course is split up into three different phases and culminates with a twelve-mile road march and the graduation ceremony on the same day.
For the first two phases, we kept our feet on the ground except for one helicopter ride and a couple of obstacles. The course begins with what is called “zero day.” The cadre run you through an obstacle course that you need to pass to continue the course, and then have you run two miles afterwards. Then, they move you to a classroom where they give you an expectations briefing. When that is over, they make sure that you get a solid work-out in for the rest of the day.
Phase One is almost an exact repeat of zero day, but three days long. The instructors will teach classes on helicopter characteristics, close air support, medical evacuation, and basic pathfinder operations (Picking out where the aircraft can and will land.). Anyone in the course should plan on a vigorous unscheduled workout between classes. This phase ends with a written test and a hands-on test covering hand and arm signals.
Phase Two covers sling load operations and is considered by some to be the hardest phase. Soldiers learn about the equipment used to hook up equipment to a helicopter to be flown into an area. It ends with a written test, but the hardest part is the hands-on test. You are given four “sling loads” with four deficiencies that you need to find in two minutes or less. You need to get at least three out of the four deficiencies to pass on each of the sling loads. You can only retest once on anything.
Phase Three is the rappel phase, and anyone who is remotely afraid of heights won’t forget it. As I was hanging upside down from a rope swinging in the air while attempting to “lock in” with all my equipment on, one thought went through my mind: I volunteered for this? In the end I made it down successfully, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.
ROTC gives students the wonderful opportunity to attend schools like this. How many people walked away from their Christmas vacation with an experience like that? It just goes to show that ROTC is more than a group of college kids walking around campus in a uniform or matching polo’s. I must warn you though, the courses will probably be fairly physically challenging.
CDT Eric Schultz
SMP Cadet (Commissioned MAY 08)
UW Oshkosh MS IV
As a Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) cadet, I have been able to participate in the ROTC program and attend weekend training drills with a National Guard unit. This has given me the chance to learn more about the Infantry branch, as well as gain unique leadership experiences.
After a year in the SMP program, I took over the duties as a platoon leader in my National Guard unit in the absence of another lieutenant. I work closely with a well-experienced Platoon Sergeant just as newly commissioned officers would. Together, we plan, conduct, and supervise training events, as well as, take care of administrative tasks for our platoon. I also have the opportunity to work with other lieutenants, and learn as much as I can from them prior to my commissioning.
These leadership experiences have allowed me to build my resume, and have given me an advantage over others in my search for a job after college. Overall, I have to say that the Simultaneous Membership Program has been an excellent bridge between both my military and civilian careers.