3-26-15 ROTC (Ariana Berkemeier)  (4 of 22)
Army ROTC cadets wait patiently for the UH-60 Blackhawk to land. (Ariana Berkemeier / The Signpost)

For many freshmen and sophomores there are a lot of first opportunities available. The moment you become a true Wildcat and your first football game are memories that are common for a normal student. But on Friday, a group of uncommon students had the experience of a lifetime.

On Friday, the young ROTC cadets took flight.

As part of the training curriculum for the cadets of the ROTC program, and in conjunction with the Utah National Guard, two Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters landed on the quad right outside the Social Sciences Building. From there the cadets were taken to Mountain Green to participate in a tactical maneuver.

“Many of the young cadets in our program have yet to really enlist in the military,” Said Maj. Camille Mary Smith of the ROTC program. “They have yet to go through basic training and go through the different situations that a regular soldier has been trained for. For them, this is the first taste of action; their first chance to show us what they have got.”

For the younger cadets, the adventure was simple. First they were flown from WSU up to the unloading point. There they were issued paintball guns and masks. From that point on, they ran through simulations that would help to test their reaction time as well as their ability to work under duress.

In order to help facilitate the training, Older cadets (mostly junior and senior members of the ROTC) stationed themselves along the simulation route and opened fire with paint ball guns of their own.

“For me, being an MS3 (Military Science level Three rank) this is an opportunity for me to be able and help the younger students grow,” said Cadet Chelsey Kellum. “Yes, it is fun shooting them, but these kids have yet to go through basic training, and so how they do here is really telling of how they will survive, the more they do. This is the funnest lab of the year, and helps with the transition.”

Cristal Sepulveda is a MS1 and a freshman to the ROTC program. Like all of her classmates, she has been working hard to get a good education and has spent her focus on becoming a nurse. Aside from the obvious skills that come with being in the ROTC program, she has felt a sense of pride in what she is doing.

“For me studying nursing and being a cadet, I feel like I am becoming a superhero for the heroes,” Sepulveda said. “That has been one of my major motivations for a long time, and in the ROTC, I have a family of people that are supporting me through that experience.”

For many cadets, other students in ROTC become their friends and family away from home. For the average out-of-state student, that can sometimes be a difficult obstacle to overcome. With the ROTC Program, that safety net will be in place wherever they go.

“This program has helped me grow in so many ways already,” said Cadet Madeline Meyer, a second year in the program. “Not only have I been able to get an education, but I have made friends. I think that one of the best things about being in the ROTC program is you have automatic friends. You work with these people all the time and they really do become your closest comrades.”

This activity marked the final lab for the cadets. In the following month, the cadets will be able to put their training to the test as they go through a multi-day activity that will put them in the wilderness with only their skills and each other to rely upon.

“I am so proud of these students,” Smith said. “They have grown a lot and accomplished a lot together. This experience for them is something that most people don’t go through, and the fact that they are all willing to be here and participate shows a real initiative to excel.”

The ROTC program is available for all students, and enlisting is not a requirement. For classes and information about the Wildcat ROTC program, see this link: http://www.weber.edu/rotc/

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