By Whitney Allen
Feature Photo by Melissa Scott
After 29 days, the cadets of the 2nd Regiment of Leader’s Training Course have completed LTC training and graduated with both a sense of unity and accomplishment. Following graduation, the cadets were all smiles but there was no denying the challenges the weeks leading up to graduation presented.
Tysheka Jackson of South Carolina State University at Orangeburg faced one of her fears at the High Ropes course.
“My biggest accomplishment was when I faced my fear of heights at the rock climbing wall and high ropes,” Jackson said.
Several cadets agreed the High Ropes course was one of the most challenging aspects of their training this summer.
While cadets may have anticipated challenges and pushing their limits, the resulting fellowship among the regiment came as a surprise to some.
Cadet Kaitlin Lusk from the University of South Carolina Upstate at Spartanburg admitted she arrived at Fort Knox prepared to simply train and meet the requirements of her contract but she gained much more than leadership skills.
“I started meeting people and we got to know each other. It was a lot of fun, I’ve had a great experience,” Lusk said.
From conquering the High Ropes course together to sleeping in tents and often rising before dawn, the cadets bonded over the past 29 days.
Cadet Desmond Thomas from Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana said the experience has been great. Similar to Lusk, it’s more than the training that left Thomas feeling satisfied.
“I bonded with all of these people, we’re like a family and we’ll stay connected,” Thomas said.
In addition to the friendships formed this summer; the learning purpose of LTC was certainly fulfilled.
“You gain more from experience than the textbook,” Thomas said. “Actually doing it is how you become perfect. Practice makes perfect.”
Each of the elements of the cadets’ training this summer came into play in the field exercises at the end of the course. Joseph Nguyen an ROTC cadet from Capital University in Bexley, Ohio was a mentor for LTC cadets this summer. Nguyen said he began to see the cadets’ leadership skills and attitudes come to light in the field training exercises. While some cadets stand out as natural leaders, all of the cadets were motivated according to Nguyen.
“This is one of the first times I’ve seen a group of kids doing something like this and be so highly motivated, they wanted to do it,” Nguyen said.
Perhaps it was another type of motivation that inclined some cadets to wrap up their training with one final deed. Over half of the regiment donated blood at a blood drive hosted by the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP).
Blood donated to the ASBP goes to military personnel and their families.
Why give blood after almost four weeks of training? The answer was practically universal: to help fellow Soldiers.
The past 29 days have been a whirlwind of challenges, learning, and new experiences for cadets. The friendships formed in the meantime, made the experience even more worthwhile.