UMHB’s ROTC program trains future heroes

This October marks the 10-year anniversary of the UMHB Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).
The program develops students into commissioned U.S. Army officers while they are earning their degree.
“Once you graduate, you will commission as a second lieutenant, and then you will move up through the ranks and… given everything is done correctly, you should hit captain in about four or five years,” Capt. Charles Wilson, assistant professor of military science, said.
UMHB’s program has approximately 30 cadets. They work in conjunction with Texas A&M Central Texas’ (TAMU-CT) ROTC program, which has approximately 50 cadets.
ROTC offers scholarships to cadets. The two-, three- and four-year scholarships pay for tuition and provide a stipend for books.
When a student accepts the scholarship, they must sign a contract that states they will finish ROTC to become commissioned officers.
ROTC is divided into four segments: Military Science (MS) Level 1 (freshmen), 2 (sophomores), 3 (juniors), and 4 (seniors).
MS Level 1 cadets learn rank structure, customs and courtesies such as saluting and standing at attention, and time management.
MS Level 2 cadets learn how to function as a team, and they learn land navigation.
MS Level 3 cadets learn how to manage large groups of personnel, while receiving guidance from the MS Level 4 cadets.
They are put into more key leadership positions to display what they’ve learned during their time in ROTC.
MS Level 4 cadets learn how to lead and manage on a higher level, and prepare to commission into the Army upon graduation.
Students in the ROTC program can study any major.
The classes are typically held on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
On Wednesdays, cadets participate in a lab portion of the program, where they will put what they’ve been learning into practice.
Labs are usually done with the TAMU-CT cadets. ROTC Cadets have Physical Training (PT) Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m.
During PT, cadets do cardio exercises, weight lifting, and ruck marching with 35+ pounds.
ROTC cadets do not have to go to basic training like enlisted soldiers.
“These individuals are coming out as officers, so the information that they learn here is a condensed version of what they learn at basic training, but [cadets are] not learning how to follow; they’re learning how to be leaders,” Captain Wilson said.
“They have to have the same core understanding of basic Army [doctrine] as privates, but leaving out of here they’re going to be officers at the end of the day, so this 21, 22-year-old female or male is going to be in charge of this 45-year-old sergeant that’s been in the military for over 12 years.”
After students graduate and commission, they will attend the Basic officer Leaders Course, where they will be trained in their specific jobs that they will be doing in the Army.
Capt. Wilson said that ROTC students also help out in the community.
“We work a lot with the junior ROTC program at Copperas Cove. We have some people that do volunteer work on the side. We have our drill team (those individuals you see performing on the field during your football teams)… They need to go out and spread their goodness to the world.”
CPT Wilson invites students to visit an ROTC class if they are interested in joining the program.
“You’ll have to sign a waiver, but you can come to PT and see how we work-out. If you want to see our lab exercises, you are more than welcome to come out and essentially shadow someone for a day.”
Freshmen Criminal justice major Ryan Trenholm is experiencing his first year in ROTC.
“I’ve always loved the military. My dad’s retired military. I was born on Fort Hood… Honestly, [ROTC] is a lot of fun and adventure. This group is like a family.”
Senior political science major with a double minor in economics and military science Joel Loua has advice for someone on the fence about joining ROTC.
“Do you love your community? Do you love serving? Do you love being a part of being something greater than you? It really is that,” Loua said. “Once you put on your uniform, you understand that other people have worn the same uniform way before you have. That does help you understand the gravity of what you’re doing.”
Capt. Wilson, who was in ROTC during his college career, said that not only do students learn to be commissioned officers, but they are also taught many life skills.
“At the end of the day, I can safely say that I bettered my time management… [and] confidence. We’re going to be in the Army. You are in charge of all these people. You are in charge of these people who’re going to have their lives in your hands at some point. We want you to be able to get in front of people and be very self-aware of what your impact is… We make sure you are in good enough shape to be a good leader that people want to follow.”

Cadet Ashley Matta gives a hand signal while Cadet Nathan Gammage looks on.
Photo by Lauren Lum

Author: Lauren Lum

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