By Matthew Langston
Leader’s Training Course
After a month of learning to become a leader, battling fears and being challenged by physical training, Foxtrot Company, like the five companies before it, arrived at the last leg of its Leader’s Training Course journey.
Although exhausted from the road march, Cadets stood proud in their respective platoons as the sun slowly rose. They were ready to move into the final phase of training, as marked by the brief, but monumental rites of passage ceremony.
Cadets listened as patriotic songs played over a speaker system and they thought back on their time spent at LTC. Company and course leaders applauded the Cadets’ accomplishments.
Lt. Col. Jeff Perry, Foxtrot’s company tactical officer, harkened back to the first two phases of training — Soldier First and Warrior Leader — and the challenges they completed, like being the only company to this point to score 100 percent completion on the land navigation test.
“As I speak to you, I want each of you to reflect on what you’ve accomplished over the past 23 days at the Leader’s Training Course,” he said. “I’m proud of each and every one of you for your individual and collective accomplishments.”
With heads held high, Cadets listened to Perry as he talked about what it meant to move forward and become an officer in the Army.
“To receive a commission is an honor, as you will be instructed by the President of the United States to lead our nation’s most precious resource, the sons and daughters that constitute the greatest land power in the world,” Perry said.
Staff Sgt. Jose Zeledon Castillo said the Cadets should be proud and feel accomplished for making it through training.
“It’s almost like a high-five at the end of a long day,” he said.
Although ceremony honors the Cadets, Castillo said the cadre is also honored to have helped the company make it this far and to see them standing together after a job well done.
“I feel proud in the sense that I contributed,” he said. “In some fashion, I contributed to the final product.”
Cadet Amber Odom took the opportunity to reflect during the ceremony on the past few weeks. She said making it to the ceremony made her feel like she had made it through more than she originally thought she could.
Although excited to graduate, she would miss her fellow Cadets.
“I think it’s bittersweet,” the student from Missouri State University said. “I had no ROTC experience coming into this, so all of the friends I made here is my first experience with camaraderie.”
She said LTC gave her more confidence in areas like working with others and believing in herself.
Cadet Taylor Lees looked forward to teaching skills such as land navigation and basic rifle marksmanship to others back at her host school of Vanderbilt University. She said the rites of passage made her realize the fears she had overcome and made her think of all the people she had met while at Fort Knox.
“I feel like the people I’ve been with the past month would have my back more so than people back home, which is crazy, but true,” she said.
Lees said she was afraid of failing when she arrived at LTC. As she moves on, she has a sense of achievement.
“A big thing for me is the fear of not succeeding,” she said. “But I can’t leave here and say that I didn’t succeed.”