By: Emily Mulcahey
“Never, ever give up.” The cadets looked on in nervous silence as Airport Reception Team Officer in Charge, Captain Conover, welcomed them to Louisville, Ky., their first stop before entering Fort Knox for summer training. “When it matters, these are your brothers and sisters.”
The students that held their camouflage baggage and looked around at their peers were ROTC cadets, entering Fort Knox for Cadet Summer Training (CST). However, these particular cadets do not entirely know what they will be faced with this summer. They are here for Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET), meaning that they have either not attended basic training or they have not completed any ROTC at school thus far. They are essentially brand new recruits, who have little background in the Army, but are still willing to sign up and one day answer the call.
“I’ve respected people in the military since I can remember, so I think it’s basically that respect just translated into wanting to be a part of this as well as appreciating it,” said Cadet Francis Hannon of Providence College, R.I.
Some of the cadets come from military families, so they have some idea of what their training will entail this summer. Some have also taken ROTC classes at school. One cadet, Hannah Lefors of the University of Maryland at College Park, has been in ROTC for over a year.
“I’m excited,” she said, “I mean it’s new, so it’s a little nerve wracking, but I love ROTC.”
Cadets in CIET range from the ones like Hannah, with at least a year of experience under their belt, to ones like Ericka Costillo, who has never been affiliated with the Army.
“I’m kind of nervous,” laughed Costillo, “but definitely excited. I know there is a lot of great training that will happen here.”
Whether these cadets have a vast range of experience in ROTC, or essentially none, they are all excited to learn this summer.
“I really want to work on my leadership skills and more military knowledge,” said Costillo, “I know some things, but I really want to be able to get up there to teach and lead it. I want to be able to help the people that are younger than me and make them learn as much as the older people did for me.”
Their attitudes are a direct reflection of the brother and sisterhood that is the United States Army. Teamwork and leadership make up the glue that binds soldiers together through their darkest hours, and CST is where that glue is manufactured.