FORT KNOX, Ky. – Nearly three hundred Cadets arrived at Fort Knox yesterday for Basic Camp. Over the course of the next thirty-one days, 1st Regiment Basic Camp Cadets will be tested on various activities such as going off the rappel tower, experiencing Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear defense (CBRN), and getting familiar with weapon systems.
Most Cadets were anxious to arrive at training, as they are taking their first steps in becoming an Army Officer. Cadet Taylor Richardson explains, “There are a lot of emotions going through my head. First day of summer, first time on a plane, first day ever doing anything Army related.” Cadet Richardson is beginning her Reserve Officers’ training Corps (ROTC) career at Basic Camp before heading back to University of Mississippi where she will start her junior year of school.
Like Richardson, Cadet Esteban Valentin is joining ROTC later in his college career. He prepared for Cadet Summer Training (CST) by reading the Ranger Handbook-a valuable tool that gives insight to battle drills, first aid and basic leadership skills. “I feel fantastic, but a little bit nervous. I’m excited to become better acquainted with leadership and battle tactics,” said the Niagra University ROTC student.
These Cadets aren’t the only ones unfamiliar with Army related training. Cadet Robert Ibarra is the first in his family to join the Army and put himself in a new environment. “I want to serve my country and gain experience from a different viewpoint,” explained Ibarra. The Cadet from the University of Central Oklahoma plans to become a nurse and wants to expand his medical skills through experiences while the Army.
A ROTC Cadet from the University of New Mexico is the first in her family to join the military as well. Faith Melendez joined with the encouragement from her mother. Although she is not sure what to expect at CST, she feels confident in the training her instructors at school provided her with. “I’m excited to learn everything that they have to offer… I want to be an Army Officer,” said Melendez.
For Valentin, however, the thought of joining ROTC didn’t appeal to him until this past year. “It’s not something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Valentin. “A friend of mine, who’s in the National Guard, was telling me about it. [The military] was something that I always said ‘no that’s not for me’, but then after thinking about it more, I decided to give it a try. I joined ROTC and fell in love with it.”
The overall goal of Basic Camp is to prepare and develop necessary skills and qualities, such as leadership, in Cadets needed to succeed at Advanced Camp. Sgt. 1st Class William Bellomy explained how himself and other Cadre members, as Reception, make sure that Cadets are equipped with gear, basic military knowledge and anything else needed for training.
“Tomorrow is day one. They’ll go to the Copple Center in the morning and inprocess. Then, they’ll have the Commanding General’s brief, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program (SHARP), Equal Opportunity, Legal,” said Bellomy, who is from the National Guard unit in Kentucky.
On day two, Cadets will be issued gear at the Central Issue Facility (CIF). Day three, each Cadet will complete a one-one-one assessment, which entails one minute of sit-ups, one minute of push-ups and a one-mile run. Drill Sergeants will take the Cadets on day four, and be with them throughout the rest of their training.
Though each Cadet who arrived at Basic Camp yesterday used ‘nervous’ to describe how they felt, their training in the next thirty-one days will fly by. There will be a lot of first times; but these first times will help Cadets gain valuable leadership qualities needed to be successful at Advanced Camp.