After a semester of hard work, training and learning, the Weber State University ROTC dressed up to get down at its annual fall ball.
On Friday night, the Shepherd Union Ballrooms were transformed into a wonderland of ROTC cadets and their dates. The Battle Cross, a special table dedicated to fallen soldiers, was also on display.
ROTC Cadet Ken Jacobsen, an engineering and military science senior, was tasked with planning the annual event and assuring its smooth success. Jacobsen said the Army uses continuity books to keep the planning together, and this is the standard everywhere.
“We put all of what it took to plan it this year in a notebook, and then next year they can see how we did it and do it the same way or change it up and improve it,” Jacobsen said.
Hoping to go into active duty, Jacobsen plans on graduating next semester. He is an MS4, in a ranking system for the ROTC that corresponds to the cadet’s year in school. While ranked as an MS4, a cadet is given a staff position.
“It’s not too bad,” said Jacobsen of the preparation for the ball. “It prepares you to be leader.”
Cadet Justin Johns, also an MS4, serves as the public affairs officer. Johns photographed the different cadets during trainings, classes and other activities throughout the year. These photos appeared in a video shown during the formal portion of the event.
With the hope of moving up in rank and someday managing an Army hospital, Johns enrolled in the WSU ROTC after serving for six years. He said the Army helped him realize his leadership potential.
“I actually thought that handling anything the officer did was out of my reach,” Johns said. He also mentioned that, after gaining confidence when he joined the Army, he was able to accomplish more. “After I joined the Army, they taught me how to become a soldier, fix hospital equipment and jump out of planes, and then I came back to my unit.”
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Garner was the guest speaker at the ball. Garner, a writer, photographer and adjunct professor at WSU, talked to the cadets about the benefits of serving the country.
“You are a very unique group of people. You may not know that, but I hope you do,” said Garner to the cadets. “Only 20-30 percent of Americans ages 18-27 are even eligible to even possibly join the Army, and very few of them do.”
Garner stressed that success isn’t just measured by rank, and insisted the cadets ask themselves what success means to them personally.
“You have to decide, what is success going to be for me? What is success going to be for our family as we go through this?” said Garner to his reserve officers and training officers. “When going into a military career, look at what you can become, rather than what you can do.”
After Garner spoke, the Wildcat Battalion color guard retired the colors, or flags. Senior Cadet Phillip Athens said he was part of the color guard last year.
“They also do many different events here at school and outside of school as well,” said Athens, noting the volunteer position sometimes requires cadets to try out. “They do the football games . . . They will be responsible for posting the colors and retrieving the colors at the end.”
Jacobsen said the WSU ROTC is a good opportunity for students who really want to be a part of the Army.
“For the first year or so, it allows them to be immersed in it (the Army), and then the last two years, they really have to execute,” he said. “It’s a good experience, but you definitely have to be committed to it.”