It started with the clatter of steel, a pop, then a hiss as white smoke curled from the cylinder container. In seconds, visibility was dulled and the heavy thud of door breaching resonated throughout the mock village. The whir of airsoft BB’s added a constant thrum to the already booming music and concentrated shouting.
Reserves Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC)’s Fall Field Training eXercises (FTX) are underway.
ROTC is an organization that many Gustavus students may not understand or be aware of. ROTC is a college-based organization that prepares men and women for officer positions in all branches of U.S. armed forces (excluding Coast Guard).
Sophomore Sam Francis and Juniors Lexi Liston, Luke Sandersfeld, and Ben Thrash each feel that ROTC has changed them in a positive way.
ROTC participated in (FTX) around southern Minnesota and at Camp Ripley, preparing members of ROTC for what they may encounter during their service.
“Knowing your friends are right there makes it easier to go out on a limb and do things you may not do alone,” Thrash said.
The time commitment as well as the physical activities and challenges presented to those enrolled in ROTC, can at times be taxing, yet highly rewarding in terms of self-accomplishment. Juggling Gustavus course work, ROTC requirements, and maintaining a social life requires organization and focus.
“ROTC pushes me in a different way than any other leadership activity,” Liston said.
ROTC has been in existence since 1916 and produces 56 percent of all officers in the U.S. Army. It is considered to be one of the best courses for leadership training in America.
Occasionally, students can be seen walking around in uniform for related ROTC exercises and infantry training. They do more than just wear a uniform. They actively prepare for deployment, or National Guard servive once they complete ROTC training. The cadets belong to the Maverick Battalion, which is comprised of students from Minnesota State University Mankato, Bethany Lutheran College, and Gustavus Adolphus College.
The amount of reliance needed to overcome the challenges ROTC members face requires teamwork and a strong sense of trust, which is developed and strengthened through experience.
Everyone in ROTC has their own reason for enrolling; love for America, family members who are or were in service, desire to be part of something greater, to create friendships. Regardless of the reason, each member shares a purpose and common goal—to better themselves and do what they believe is right.
“I’m not doing this to be recognized, I’m not doing this to say I’m better than you. The recognition is nice, but we do it for the love of our country,” Sandersfeld said.
On Oct. 26, ROTC will be involved in training exercises (STX) such as reconnaissance, ambush, movement to contact, and attack.
On Nov. 9, there will be the 8th Annual Veterans’ Day 5K through the fitness trail and surrounding area.
The exercises provide the cadets with greater sense of experience and accomplishment, but they also help to develop a sense of cammaderie between the ROTC members from the different schools.
“You rely on the squad, a trust that you just have to have,” Francis said.