By Tiamoyo Harris
Officers stood firmly in full uniform with their hands behind their back and shoulders precisely intact. The mission they had prepared months for was about to begin.
Their new cadets were here for the summer.
As the ROTC cadets grabbed their bags from baggage claim from the airport, they were greeted and checked in on site and waited for instructions from the reception staff.
“I just want to become the best officer candidate I can be. I know all of us have different experiences so I know it’s best to use other people’s experiences where you fall short,” Cadet Leadership Course (CLC) Cadet Gregory Taylor, a social work major of Wayne State University in Michigan said. “My wife was nervous about me leaving her. It was hard, but we’ll make it.”
Taylor is one of over 600 CLC cadets that arrived Sunday, June 7 at Louisville International Airport to start the Cadet Summer Training (CST) program in Fort Knox. During the summer, thousands of cadets enrolled in more than 1,000 colleges and universities will participate in either CLC or Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET). CLC is a program for junior and seniors where cadets will be evaluated for officer potential through tiered training structure using light infantry tactics as the instructional medium. Freshman and sophomores in college will participate in CIET which will serve as an introduction to Army life. CST will culminate with a graduation and for cadets who have already obtained their college degree, they will be commissioned as Second Lieutenants.
“We’re going to take care of them just as their parents would. For every soldier and cadet our goal is to make sure they have everything they need to be successful and safe,” Sargent First Class Anthony Ruggiero said. “It’s always good when you see your trainees for the first time. You can see the motivation level.”
ROTC serves as the number one producer of Army officers, with over 79 percent of officers coming from ROTC programs. According to NCOIC Officer Master Sargent Frank Garrett, it’s important that those Army officer candidates retain what they learn from the 28 day or 29 day training, but it is important they apply that information beyond their summer days.
“This isn’t an end all deal. We as cadre will get their cadet evaluation reports and whatever counseling they need we’ll get back at their home campus.” Sgt. Frank Garrett said.
“The goal for right now is to minimize frustration and maximize motivation. Accurate accountability lessens frustration at Fort Knox”
Waiting to board the bus was also Theresea Sulminski. Joining the ROTC program and Army was not even a second thought for the aspiring physician assistant senior at Michigan State University.
“I figured it was a career path that I saw myself fitting into and I definitely didn’t mind the hustling type of lifestyle in the Army,” Sulminski said. “I’m looking forward to the training. Hopefully I can take back learning about myself so I can better myself and other cadets in my program.”
Taking the skills she learned back to school is exactly what Master Sgt. Garrett expects from Sulminski and the rest of the cadets in the program over the summer.
“When we combine schools and they can see different standard positions, it’s amazing; and anytime they can have leadership positions and the mentorship they receive from that, I think that’s really important.” said Garrett.
“I’ve been in the Army almost 21 years and I still need mentorship. I still need teaching and coaching so you can never have enough. You can never have enough.”
Being able to mentor these collegiate youth during CST and in his ROTC program in Utah is what drives Captain Sean Conover’s passion in the Army.
“My leadership has been inspired by great men and women in the military and continues to be refined,” Capt. Conover said.
“I’m excited to pass on those lessons that have helped me in my military career to the cadets that I will now be responsible for instructing.”