By: Emily Mulcahey
We’ve all seen the commercials. Each Olympics sends television watchers a wave of “Thank you, Mom” commercials that have coined the phrase, “for teaching us that falling only makes us stronger.” Yes, behind every great athlete is an even greater mentor. But what about soldiers? In a profession that’s not on worldwide television, and that doesn’t take place once every four years, but every day of their lives. Through some of the most rigorous training that a human body can endure—is there someone standing behind them?
As the second regiment of Cadet Initial Entry Training (CIET) graduated from Cadet Summer Training (CST) on Tuesday, the bleachers were filled with the smiling and tearful faces of parents, grandparents, spouses, friends, and many more. The faces of those who have watched their cadet grow from a child into an adult could be described with no other word: euphoric.
““We were all for it from day one,” beamed Cris Sutherland about her son, Cadet Hunter Sutherland of the University of South Florida. “It’s exciting! It’s the future.”
The future for her son is a bright one. He is confident that he will be able to take his experience at CST, and apply it to his fall semester, and the rest of his life.
“At school, it’s mostly book learning,” he said. “I think the most important thing I’ll take away from this summer is gaining actual experience. We did ambushes and recons, so instead of just seeing them on paper, we got to do them. I wasn’t sure what to expect coming here. Now that I’m done, I have definitely learned a lot.”
The feeling of increased knowledge due to being in a hands-on environment was a common theme for the cadets. Brianna Kolota of the University of Florida echoed Sutherland’s opinion on advancing her skills through experience.
“I was definitely not proficient in battle drills or tactical skills, so I feel like I’m going back with a better understanding of those skills,” Kolota commented.
Kolota is graduating CIET with a plethora of new experience. Having only taken one year of ROTC, this was her first time in a training environment.
“I knew it would be a good mix of people who knew what they were doing, and those who had no idea,” she said. “Having the more advanced cadets definitely helped those of us who weren’t as experienced. I think I did well. I definitely had my moments where I was freaked out, but you ask someone for help, and they say ‘okay, I’m going to walk you through this.’”
For CIET regiment 2, the teamwork was not only evident to the cadets, but also to the cadre who remained with them through the duration of their training. Their willingness to work and help one another was a rarity that was welcomed with open arms.
“I expected it would be very basic, but what we ended up with was a very advanced level,” said Lt. Col. David Key. “They’re going to be able to walk into their universities and go straight into a leadership position. My hat is off to them.”
Lt. Col. David Key is one of the cadre who was assigned to CIET 2nd regiment, and his pride was prevalent as he spoke about the cadets’ completion of CST.
“They’ve really grown, they’ve been looking for more leadership opportunities, and it was just totally unexpected,” he smiled. “We thought that they just wanted to do the training, but they wanted more. They did great. Out of the 241 here today, none of them quit.”
As CST comes to a close for these cadets, they have time to think about all they have taken away from this experience. Their new self confidence, and the confidence of their cadre makes it evident that these cadets will be bringing more than expected to the table when ROTC picks up in the fall.