There was excitement in the air as Cadets of 8th Regiment, Advanced Camp, fired off their final rounds and completed one last tactical mission during their concluding iteration of Field Training Exercises (FTX).
The morale was incredibly high as these Cadets looked back on their time in the field and recognized the very important, yet very different perspectives they had on the experience.
“If we’re not training, we’re out there in the actual, real fight,” Cadet John Halo, from Fayetteville State University, said. “It’s good to have that increased stress, it adds value to the training, so it makes the leaders think on their feet and make decisions that are important for the entirety of the operation.”
Halo discussed his unique viewpoint on field training given his background as a prior-enlisted Sgt. 1st Class.
“It’s fun because I get to go back to doing what I used to do,” Halo said. “It’s exciting and it’s good to see people grow in that aspect of, you know, training.”
While Halo had 12 years of knowledge under his belt as he headed into the field, for other Cadets, FTX introduced a new level of intensity to their Army experience.
“Some people have a lot of fears, a lot of anxiety coming out into the field,” Cadet Lauren West, from Texas A&M University Central Texas, said. “The biggest thing is being able to get to know who you’re talking to. So, if they’re under stress or they’re upset, just being able to be that person for them to support them. Otherwise, you just kind of fall apart.”
Although she completed Basic Camp last summer, and is nearing the closing days of Advanced Camp, West spoke about how she is still fairly new to the Army ROTC lifestyle, having joined the program late after transferring from a school in Georgia.
“I moved to Texas and that school actually had ROTC, which I had never heard of before,” West said. “Speaking through the members who were there, I was able to get in contact and start talking to their Cadre, and overall became interested.”
Cadet Davis Owen, from University of Richmond, shared a similar story about his unexpected introduction to ROTC, and the immense impact it has had on his life.
“I realized I didn’t have the structure I liked in college like I had at home in high school,” Owen said. “Once I joined, it kind of got my life into a spot that I very much enjoyed and had in the past.”
Along with structure, Owen spoke about how joining ROTC and attending Cadet Summer Training has brought forth an abundance of new friendships and bonds.
“You have to get to know these people on a personal level, because you are trusting them and they are trusting you,” Owen said. “Getting to know these people for what feels like months, but is only 35 days, I know some of us will be friends for a very, very long time.”
With that, Owen stressed the value behind having a diverse and well-rounded group, urging that the level of experience an individual obtains does not determine their ability to contribute to the team.
“Everyone comes from a very unique background, but also has their own unique story,” Owen said. “Whether it comes with experiences, or they are like me and joined ROTC and had no idea what any of this was.”