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Virginia Tech Army ROTC congratulates the 94 second lieutenants who commissioned during this academic year and are starting their Army careers!

 

Activity Management

By Richard Cummings ’21

I realized during my junior year of high school that I wanted more from my college experience than just a degree. After learning about the opportunities at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, I decided to apply for an ROTC scholarship. After receiving the scholarship, I explored my options, and Army ROTC at Virginia Tech seemed to provide multiple activities that would enrich my academic and military experience.

As a freshman, I competed for and earned a spot in Ranger Company. That experience fueled my competitive spirit and led me to walk on to the Hokie football team. I also competed with the Corps basketball team and traveled to Notre Dame for the Flyin’ Irish Basketball Tournament this spring. Though we lost in the championship to Texas A&M, the experience of meeting cadets from different programs was inspiring.

Army ROTC enabled me to attend Air Assault School and then the Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program in the Philippines. Those experiences not only supported the values that I hold dear but also enhanced my leadership skills.

My typical day begins in the weight room at 5:30 a.m. and ends with the completion of my homework at 12:30 a.m. ROTC has taught me that the term “time management” should be replaced with “activity management.” We all have the same amount of time in the day, but what activities we choose to do in that time is what is important.

Cadet Richard Cummings ’21 listens intently to coaches at football practice.
Cadet Richard Cummings ’21 listens intently to coaches at practice. Photo courtesy of Dave Knachel, Virginia Tech Athletics.

Leading in a COVID Environment

By Alex Yerina ’21

Being the Army ROTC cadet battalion commander in the COVID-19 era has presented some obstacles.

In a normal year, incoming leadership shadows outgoing leadership to learn the battle rhythm and processes prior to taking command. Because the university sent everyone home midway through the spring semester, we were unable to do that.

Restrictions on campus forced us to hold meetings with the staff via Zoom. We quickly realized that sidebar discussions that normally would occur were not happening because of the lack of face-to-face time.

However, it also allowed us to develop new ways to meet the standard.

One example of this is that we were able to conduct physical training tests without having to hold feet by using pool noodles on weighted hex bars.

I want to commend the work of the cadet command sergeant major, executive officer, staff, and commanders. They have done an absolutely amazing job despite all the obstacles, and I could not be more honored or proud to be able to work alongside them.

Cadet Battalion Commander Alex Yerina ’21 (right) walks with Cadet Harry Fleck ‘21
Cadet Battalion Commander Alex Yerina ’21 (right) walks with Cadet Harry Fleck ‘21 after checking on their units during the weekend. Photos by Cadet Zenas Koranteng Mensah ’21.

Operation Agile Leader Vs. Cadet Summer Training

By Jillian Skahill ’21

COVID-19 forced cadets at all levels to adapt and get creative with the way we train and communicate.

With Cadet Summer Training (CST) canceled and COVID-19 impacting all aspects of life, cadets had the responsibility to integrate force protection and safety into all operations.

Paving the path forward in a new environment, senior cadets who missed out on CST completed Operation Agile Leader (OAL) from Sept. 17-20. We demonstrated our aptitude to lead in a COVID environment. We completed both day and night land navigation, round robin training that included call for fire and combat casualty care, two days of situational training exercise lane execution, and leadership evaluations — all while physically distanced and masked.

The juniors joined the event on day two to get a first-hand account of what CST testing would look like.

In addition to OAL, cadets from both Virginia Tech and Radford University worked tirelessly to ensure training does not halt. We packed our schedule with in-person PT and labs, including a rifle range, ruck marches, land navigation courses, two field training exercises, and service projects that raised more than $5,000 for hurricane relief.

We truly appreciate Army ROTC cadre for leading and mentoring us through the COVID threat.

Cadet Jillian Skahill looks at a document.
Cadet Jillian Skahill ’21 handles administrative and logistical actions during the Fall Field Training Exercise. Photo by Cadet Zenas Koranteng Mensah ’21.