Admission official learns about ROTC at Fort Knox

By Jake Doll, Contributor

As an admission official in my fourth year at McDaniel College, Ihave always paid attention to the ROTC battalion we have on campus. I was responsible for helping to ensure the recruitment of many of the students who are part o ROTC.

What I didn’t know was how involved their time here was and what benefits they gained from their dual role as a member of the Green Terror Battalion and as a student here on campus. It turned out that this “average citizen” admission official was going to find out first hand what the U.S. Army does to create the leadership excellence they instill in their officers.

In the early part of July 2007, I found myself on a plane to Fort Knox, KY as part of a five-day “Leaders Training Course” educators’ visit. I joined almost 100 other college officials from all over the country who, like me, hoped to learn what this whole ROTC thing was about. Throughout the venture, I used all my senses to discover what the U.S. Army can do for an individual student from McDaniel College, as well as (surprisingly) what it revealed about me.

We learned about how a student can pay for their education by committing to the army after college
for some years of service. As a McDaniel student, you can also take many valuable courses and gain a world of experience without even committing any time after college. The opportunities vary, but are all rewarding.

Ok, so what else was so great about visiting Fort Knox? Well, it is not the gold (which you cannot even get close too). Let’s say, however, that all of my senses were put on alert almost immediately after getting off the bus!

First, we observed active gunfire and maneuvers. The loud boom of ordinance going off, the smell of gun powder, the smoke grenades, the movement through the forest, and the tactical work we witnessed first hand, had us all on the edge of our seats. It was impressive to see a team work together to accomplish a goal, even in a mock-up for our benefit.

Then out came a list of activities to accomplish throughout the week: rappelling, combat water survival training, high ropes course work, zodiac boat training, and even drill instruction. These were the “meat” of the week’s schedule; we also received specific training, learned how to overcome fears, and learned how to perform not just
as individuals, but also as part of a team.

Along with those fantastic activities, we were treated to the delicacies that only folks associated with the armed services can truly appreciate…MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat). I think this was one of my favorite parts of the week. The variety of offerings seemed incredible to me, and I (honestly) thought the common looking packaging housed a treat that was substantial and tasty. You get a main dish, a side, and a drink for the ride. You receive a dessert and some bread, and even some flavorful spread! And 1,200 calories later, you are ready for your next challenge. I was fortunate enough to enjoy the spaghetti and meatballs (a #20) and the beef ravioli (a #3). Each particular MRE has a number associated with it you see.

The cadets I chatted with during my visit assured me that the MRE’s can get old fast, so I guess that is why nicknames like “Meals Rarely Edible” and “Meals Refusing to Excrete” are common when researching the history of this high calorie gem. Fortunately, I have yet to meet (and eat) an MRE that I didn’t like. Don’t worry GLAR, you still remain one of my favorites… keep those chicken patties coming!

All MRE humor aside, it is important to note that with all the fun and challenges that were presented to me during this week at LTC, I learned that the men and women who make ROTC part of their program here at McDaniel College are destined to do great things. They lose some of their fears and are not held back by them.

They find new ways to engage the challenges they face and accomplish that which others see as improbable or impossible. They understand how to work with others to a particular end, and get a job done.

ROTC = Leadership. It is that simple.