7th Regiment Advanced Camp (CLC) Alpha and Bravo Company Cadets attend the Commitment and Army Profession Seminar (CAPS) at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) in Elizabethtown, Ky., to listen to Medal of Honor recipient and retired Col. Roger Donlon July 29.
Donlon was the first person to receive a Medal of Honor for the Vietnam War and was the first member of the U.S. Army Special Forces. Donlon spoke with the Cadets about his experience during the war and gave them advice on how to be better leaders in the Army.
“I know you all came out of field exercises recently. You may have found yourself moving from point A to point B, but you were also finding yourselves in other ways as well,” Donlon said. “I would encourage you to look at the word discouragement and look at the core, which is courage. You all have shown that you have the courage and character to stand up and accept something bigger than all of you.”
Cdt. Kiersten Suttles, Carson—Newman University, a native of Ringgold, Ga., said it was an honor to hear the wisdom of a Medal of Honor recipient.
“This was a chance of a lifetime to be in the presence of a Medal of Honor recipient,” Suttles said. “He said that you can carry your rucksack no matter how much it weighs, and I took that literally because our rucks are pretty heavy this summer and I have felt discouraged this summer. To hear him talk about finding courage inside of discouragement is pretty inspiring.”
Cdt. Matthew Wolfe, Texas A&M University, also found the experience of hearing Donlon speak inspiring.
“The feeling of being in the room and being in his presence was both welcoming and exhilarating at the same time. He is a man that you know has a wealth of knowledge, and he has seen so much and has a lot to offer. Everything he said had passion and was genuine,” Wolfe said.
Suttles said she felt like she and her fellow Cadets could draw knowledge from Donlon’s stories that he shared.
“It was a great honor to hear him speak and hear his story,” Suttles said. “There are only a handful of recipients and he took the time out of his life to speak with us. We are going to be leaders in the Army one day and his story was encouragement for us to be that someday. It was a great experience.”
Wolfe said he felt that Donlon’s message could apply to the Cadets experience during summer training.
“He gives you the idea of being resilient,” Wolfe said. “Everyone has their own personal struggles. A lot of people here found being out on the field challenging, and they had to push through it all. You have to know that there are people who will pick you up when you fall down and to continue to work as a team to get through it.”
After his inspirational speech, the Cadets stood and applauded Donlon before singing the Army Song.