After a three-day field training exercise, sleeping in 20-degree weather, waking up at 5 a.m. and participating in six hours of field training, you could say the JMU ROTC members were exhausted.
During the battalion’s training, the ROTC members applied their classroom learning to real-life experience and skill training.
Over 100 cadets boarded buses for Frazier Farm friday afternoon, located about 6 miles from Harrisonburg. About 60 to 70 worked in platoons, while the remaining cadets were put into supporting roles, such as being Cadets used rubber M-16 rifles during operations and land navigation exercises. Smoke and grenade simulators were also used to re-enact combat situations. The weekend ended with a six-mile march back to Memorial Hall.the opposing force in tactical training operations, according to the Lt. Colonel Richard Showalter, department head of Military Science.
“To be successful you have to be confident, you have to pay attention in class,” Showalter said. “Trying to lead your peers is not an easy thing — this is where their teamwork really comes in to play.”
Showalter said that he and his colleagues try to integrate their combat experience into the cadets’ training. He said this past weekend’s training was a practical
Showalter added that he and the others who planned the training exercise used smoke and grenade simulations to emulate a real combat situation.
“I could see some of the cadets shaking a little,” Showalter said. “Not so much because they were scared, but they had all this adrenaline built up. They had to calm their minds to make the right decisions as a leader.”
Jake Merhige, a freshman intelligence analysis major, explained that he had no clue what to expect and that he only went off of the experience of his peers.
“In the classroom it can be pretty easy once you get the hang of it,” Merhige said. “But you will never get a true sense of how to
Senior political science major Joe Strunck said that perhaps the most challenging thing the cadets faced this weekend was the physical demands of the training exercises.
“It was pretty stressful,” Strunck said. “You’re under pressure to try and prove yourself, but if you step up to the plate — and you have your instructors, if they say the right things that will prepare you and give you the the confidence and the ability to do these things — that’s the most important thing.”
Strunck explained that one of the missions required a platoon of 30 to 40 cadets to move down a hill and through rough vegetation to approach and make an assault on the opposing force.
Junior geographic science major Stephen Craig explained some of the other exercises the cadets did over the weekend, one of them being land navigation during both the day and at night.
“They [leaders] give us a lane strip with five points, you don’t know where they are, you gotta like plot where the points are on a
Another exercise they did is called patrolling lanes.
“They give you an operation order and a bunch of information and you have to decide how you wanna execute the situation,” Craig said.
Showalter graduated out of the ROTC program at the University of Wisconsin at LaCrosse in 1997. Since then, he has served two tours in Iraq and has also served in Afghanistan and Germany.
Showalter said when freshmen come into the ROTC program, they’re expected to commit about seven to eight hours combined through a class and a lab that are worth one credit each and physical training three times a week.
As they progress through the program, their commitment increases and will total about 20 hours a week by the time they’re seniors.
“Their primary area of focus is getting their college degree, and their requirements for ROTC, and then everything else that they want to do,” Showalter said.
Merhige also explained the importance of leadership in the field simulations. Even though the members are at different stages in their training, they all bond over the experience.
“A lot of the freshman [MS1s] stuck together, we’ve integrated a little bit during our field lab classes, like we would be working with sophomores or MS2s and being instructed by the juniors and seniors,” Merhige said. “But we never actually fully interacted with them until this weekend and it was a really good bonding experience, I really got to know everyone better.”
Alpha Company Commander Riley Brosnan, a senior health sciences major, was also there to support his subordinates this past weekend. Brosnan, along with other senior cadets, worked in the tactical operation center, where they determined the platoons’ mission and aided them when they called for support.
“I learned that a lot of times, your boss or whatever asks you to do stuff and as someone lower, or a subordinate, you think it’s worthless, but in the long run it’s really to help him help you,” Brosnan said. “Seeing where [the subordinates] are and where I was helps you realize how much I’ve really learned through ROTC … it’s just interesting to see cadets develop and take charge and eventually lead the battalion.”
On Sunday afternoon, the cadets marched back to from Frazier Farm to Memorial Hall. Members agree that the field experience has helped them to push one another to be the best they can be and grow as individual soldiers and leaders.
“It’s all a part of the job … it required a lot of drive,” Brosnan said. “I know that one day I will be a soldier and I want to do my very best to serve my country. If I’m not giving 100 percent, there’s no point in giving anything.”
Brosnan explained that being a soldier is not just a job, it is a lifestyle that all ROTC members have adopted.
“It’s important to act like a soldier at all times even when you’re not in uniform,” Brosnan said. “It’s acting professional … keeping your integrity and helping those around you.”
Contact IJ Chan and Alana Scharlop at email@example.com.