Story By: Whitney Allen
Photo By: Melissa Scott
Three ceremonial howitzer shots for duty, honor, and country broke the quiet in the air Saturday morning at the graduation ceremony for 2nd Regiment of The Leaders Training Course.
After 29 days of training, more than two hundred Cadets have finally reached graduation and stood in formation at the center of Brooks Field, facing their families, leaders and the speaker for today −Colonel Brian Mennes.
“As I look out onto this field I see American treasures, I see hopes and dreams,” Mennes said. “I want to commend you on being here, when you could be somewhere else. That speaks to your character.”
Mennes reflected on the importance of the bond Cadets share with one another as well as the uniqueness of the United States Army.
Fifteen Cadets were individually recognized for various awards based on leadership skills, excellence, teamwork, and their performance in various areas.
Cadet Andony Majano of Embry Riddle University received the American Legion Commander’s Award. Majano said the award has undoubtedly been his biggest accomplishment here at LTC.
“It felt pretty amazing,” Majano said. “I’ve just been going through doing my part, I didn’t expect to get anything for it.”
Following the ceremony, Cadets hugged and were hopeful to see one another at LDAC next year.
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Roy, a drill sergeant who was with the Cadets upon arrival and throughout their training said, “It feels great for them. It’s nice to see the progression they’ve made. They’ve come a long way.”
The Cadets seemed fully aware and proud of how far they’ve come. Cadets have overcome fears, pushed their limits, and for the majority of the regiment –been immersed in Army life for the very first time.
Cadet Joseph Raff of the University of New Haven in Connecticut was one of the first to change into civilian clothes following the ceremony. Raff plans to continue his journey with the Army and return to Fort Knox for the Leader Development and Assessment Course next summer.
“It was awesome, a great experience.” Raff said. “I’m going to miss everyone.”
Raff said he is looking forward to contracting with the Army and next summer’s LDAC training, but nonetheless it feels good to be finished with LTC. Raff described graduation as “a long time coming.”
Mennes acknowledged that all of the Cadets might not continue their journey with the Army. He expressed he had once been in their shoes and why he chose to continue on with his own career.
“I stayed because I liked the people I saw around me, I liked the leaders that were leading me,” Mennes said.
Cadets of the 2nd Regiment seemed to like their leadership as well. Numerous Cadets stopped to snap a picture with their favorite drill sergeant, and unlike during training, there were smiles all around.
Lt. Col. Clarence Carroll, the Regimental Tactical Officer, addressed the Cadets for the last time following the ceremony. Carroll also acknowledged the Cadets’ decision to continue pursuing the path to becoming an Army officer.
“We want you in our Army but corporate America is also looking for leaders,” Carroll said. “If something happens and you don’t contract with us, don’t forget what you’ve learned here.”