During the summer, several Army ROTC cadets from Cedarville University participated in training opportunities as well as cultural immersion and teaching.
Cadets received slots to attend Airborne School, Air Assault School, a Culture Understanding and Language Proficiency Program (CULP), Cadet Troop Leader Training (CTLT), a Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) and a Leader’s Training Course (LTC). One cadet also cross-trained with cadets from West Point.
Cedarville provides its students with the opportunity to participate in Army ROTC by joining the Marauder Battalion at Central State University. Fifty-two cadets from Cedarville participate in Army ROTC.
The selection of cadets to participate in these summer events is based on the order merit list (OML), which ranks all the cadets in the nation on a numbered list based on academic performance, physical training and evaluations by the cadre.
The Marauder Battalion is awarded a certain amount of slots, which they assign to cadets based on the OML.
Kyle Culbertson, a cadet who attended Airborne School, explained how important it is to take a slot if it is offered to you.
“It is very difficult to get the slots for cadets as it is,” he said. “It is respectable to take the slot.”
Culbertson, a junior biology pre-med major at Cedarville, attended a basic airborne introduction course in Fort Benning, Ga.
The course involved jumping out of airplanes to skydive with a static line. Connected to a wire that runs the length of the interior of the plane by a static line, cadets jump out of the plane. The line extends to 15 meters in length and then opens the parachute.
Culbertson had never jumped out of a plane before and said the most challenging part was just the idea of jumping out of a plane.
The drill sergeants who run the airborne school, the “Black Cats,” talked about everything that could go wrong and gave specific examples of things that have actually happened.
He was the first cadet to jump out of the plane during jump week.
“The moment you jump out of a plane, it is the most amazing sense of quiet you could ever experience,” he said. “It is like being on top of a mountain, only better. It is the biggest rush of adrenaline, followed by the most peaceful feeling you could ever imagine.”
He said it was the most frightening and exhilarating 30 seconds of his life.
Culbertson jumped from 1,250 feet up in the air because the purpose of airborne operations is to get a very large number of people on the ground very quickly.
He learned to keep his eyes on the horizon while at airborne school, explaining that if you look up at the horizon, you keep your legs in the correct position to land on the ground.
Culbertson said this can apply to life as well. If you are constantly looking down at the obstacles, he said, you reach out for those, and get broken down. But if you keep your eyes on the horizon, or the main goal, it will allow you to go a lot further — avoiding hurt and injury in life.
Culbertson said he joined ROTC because he thought it was a good opportunity to serve his country while allowing him to practice medicine. He said he has always wanted to help people and heal people, so the opportunity seemed like a perfect fit for him.
Culbertson was not the only one from the Marauder Battalion who jumped this summer.
Three cadets from the Marauder Battalion attended Air Assault School for 12 days in Fort Benning and had the opportunity to do a live helicopter repel.
ROTC cadet Michael Retzlaff, a sophomore exercise science major at Cedarville, said that a typical day of training involved classroom learning, physical training and practical exercises. The cadets learned sling load operations, repelling and fast load operations and had an introduction into aircraft marshalling.
Retzlaff described the sling load operation training as hooking up something such as a cargo bag or a Humvee to the bottom of a helicopter so that it can be transported.
“We were working on those for hours, working on chains, ropes, counting chain links,” he said.
The participants also did a lot of repelling in the third phase of the course, which built up to the pinnacle of the course, the live helicopter repel.
Retzlaff said the jump was the coolest thing he has ever done.
Retzlaff said the academics of the course were a challenge. There were a few written tests, which outlined several procedures for bringing in aircrafts and setting up a landing zone.
The cadets also learned the sequence of inspection for the specific order for the sling load operations.
Cadets participated in a 12-mile ruck march, as well. Each one had a 30-pound ruck and rifles, and they had to do 12 miles in under three hours. Retzlaff said that the pace would be a mixture of running with some walking, though some ran the whole time.
“A big part of my success in the course was the people I had praying for me throughout the course,” Retzlaff said. “I could have not done it on my own strength.”
He said the training was exhilaratingly worthwhile.
Retzlaff said he has always felt like he wanted to serve his country in some way, and he said that the military is the best way to do it.
“It is cool to see the dream of a 12-year-old to join the army come true, and getting a great school like Cedarville almost paid for is great, but there was a big desire to want to serve there as well,” Retzlaff said.
Cadet James Dyksterhouse, a sophomore public administration major at Cedarville, said his time in Bulgaria this summer through the CULP program for ROTC was unexpected.
Dyksterhouse went to Bulgaria for 24 days to teach English to Bulgarian officers at a university as part of the CULP program.
Two hours each day were spent in class teaching military officers how to speak English. During the rest of the time, the cadets involved in the program traveled around the country to see the lifestyle and the culture, and spent time with the Bulgarian officers.
Dyksterhouse said that the language barrier was a very challenging aspect of the trip, despite the fact that he tried to learn some Bulgarian before he went to the country. He said he had never been out of the U.S. before and had to get a passport for the trip.
He said the friendships he formed with the Bulgarian officers were the most worthwhile part of his time in Bulgaria.
“One guy, Dimitar, was a really cool guy, who had the same interests as me,” Dyksterhouse said. “He was a fan of the same hockey team as me, the Red Wings. There was a connection there, and he still emails me. We just talked last week.”
He said the people in Bulgaria were really surprised to hear that Dyksterhouse had a car and that he had a garage at his house.
“I was like, yeah, I have a three-stall garage, and they didn’t know what that was,” Dyksterhouse said.
“Most of them had cars, but only because they were officers,” he said. “That is a good paying job over there.”
Dyksterhouse had the opportunity to view the U.S. vs. Germany game of the World Cup while he was in Europe.
Future plans for Dyksterhouse include graduating from college and going active duty after school. He said he hopes to pursue aviation or quartermaster — the logistics of the army. He has a brother in the military and says that he is following in his footsteps.
Laura Jani is a senior nursing major and the off-campus news editor for Cedars. She enjoys a freshly brewed cup of coffee, learning the Spanish language and traveling to new destinations.