By DeJanay Booth
Cadets Lisa Lewis, Seth Anderson and Josh Savelkoul stood in their uniform outside of their barracks. Across Lewis’ heart are two badges signifying parachute and air assault. Anderson also had a parachute badge along with combat infantry over his.
Their badges and patches on their shoulders tell a story different than an average cadet. Their stories began more than seven years ago when they became enlisted soldiers and held the ranks of staff sergeants and a sergeant first class.
“[I wanted to] work my way back up,” Anderson said. He remembers when General David Perkins asked in a speech if any of his fellow soldiers would start from the beginning.
“I’m doing that right now,” he laughed. “It feels good.” Thirteen years and four deployments later, the Northern Arizona student made the decision during a mission in his last deployment in 2013.
All three prior enlisted trainees arrived to Cadet Summer Training with one purpose: take a different approach in the Army as an officer.
Savelkoul said he wanted to commission since he was young. Working as an enlisted soldier, the University of Rhode Island student felt his experience would make him a better officer. As an NCO, he worked with Special Forces.
“Even though we have a lot of experience, you learn something new everywhere you go,” Lewis said, who is from Louisiana State University. A former sergeant first class, she worked with signal corps and as a drill sergeant.
At one point during CST, their leadership skills seeped through their bodies, and they had the urge to make professional opinions. But they broke from their “mold” as an NCO and worked with fellow cadets as they trained by their side.
Cadets admired their expertise and looked to them for guidance. According to the National Guard, cadets view enlisted soldiers in ROTC as mentors, and with respect is the experience as an NCO and commissioned officer.
However, one characteristic helped each trainee in summer training.
“Have Patience,” Savelkoul said.
Lewis turned to Savelkoul and flashed a thumbs up sign as Anderson nodded his head in agreement.
In the future, Lewis plans to go into medical services branch and Anderson hopes to join the engineer branch. Savelkoul said he will go back to Special Forces.
“It’s been a humbling experience,” Lewis said. “You can do something you love and serve your country.”
“Take initiative and don’t be afraid to fail,” Savelkoul added.
On August 13, they marched on the field and stood at attention. At the regimental graduation, they were acknowledged for their completion of CST. Lewis received the Military Order of World Wars award, which highlights a cadet demonstrating the ability to analyze situations to solve a tactical problem.
So to cadets Lewis, Anderson, Savelkoul and all former NCO trainees in Army ROTC: thank you for your prior service, what you are doing now, and what you are going to do in the future as officers.