Digging Deep

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Cadet Capt. Josh Castañeda leads a group of ROTC cadets in locating coordinates in a map reading and land navigation station Sept. 18 in San Pedro Springs Park. ROTC students rotated through various stations, including compass familiarization, map reading and land navigation, orienteering techniques and pace count.  Photo by Nicole West

Cadet Capt. Josh Castañeda leads a group of ROTC cadets in locating coordinates in a map reading and land navigation station Sept. 18 in San Pedro Springs Park. ROTC students rotated through various stations, including compass familiarization, map reading and land navigation, orienteering techniques and pace count. Photo by Nicole West

ROTC Cpl. Frank Carreon, psychology sophomore, practices using a compass at the compass familiarization station of a land navigation drill in San Pedro Springs Park.  Photo by Nicole West

ROTC Cpl. Frank Carreon, psychology sophomore, practices using a compass at the compass familiarization station of a land navigation drill in San Pedro Springs Park. Photo by Nicole West

ROTC cadets tackle road march and navigation training.

By JENNIFER CHARO

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

If you’ve thought about joining the Army or have questions about where to begin, this campus’ ROTC program has answers.

Skills gained from the program are skills that can be applied to everyday life and career. The Army calls its Reserve Officer

Training Corps a program designed to create leaders.

ROTC Pvt. Nick Rehberg, business freshman, practices using a scale map at the orienteering techniques station.  Photo by Nicole West

ROTC Pvt. Nick Rehberg, business freshman, practices using a scale map at the orienteering techniques station. Photo by Nicole West

Not to worry, joining the program is in no way a commitment to a stint in the U.S. Army. It prepares those who want a military career, but it also prepares others for real-life problem-solving and team-building.

Throughout the semester here, cadets go through military training in everything from land navigation to road marches.

While enrolled in military science classes at this college, ROTC students here conduct training with ROTC students of the University of Texas at San Antonio at the university and Camp Bullis in Northwest Bexar County.

ROTC Cpl. Frank Carreon, psychology sophomore, and Pvt. Vari Villarreal, law enforcement freshman, lead other ROTC cadets in a road march.  Photo by Nicole West

ROTC Cpl. Frank Carreon, psychology sophomore, and Pvt. Vari Villarreal, law enforcement freshman, lead other ROTC cadets in a road march. Photo by Nicole West

Cadets have to be able to pass the demanding Army PT, or physical training, test at the end of the semester to earn college credit in the military science program.

“It’s one of the hardest classes you will ever take,” said Ret. Major Monica Martinez, who directs the ROTC at this campus. She said students in the program continue to challenge themselves. “It’s about digging deep down inside of you in order to come out on top.”

Challenging themselves is exactly what these cadets do when they rise in the pre-dawn hours to be ready to start PT at 6 a.m. on campus or in San Pedro Springs Park.

The ROTC platoon stops to rest after a road march through this college and surrounding neighborhood streets Sept. 21 during a 6 a.m. physical training exercise.  Photo by Nicole West

The ROTC platoon stops to rest after a road march through this college and surrounding neighborhood streets Sept. 21 during a 6 a.m. physical training exercise. Photo by Nicole West

With dew still on the ground, cadets perform a 3 ½-mile road march through neighborhoods adjacent to this campus.

“They carry an extra 35 pounds on them, which is nothing compared to an actual road march that is 50 pounds and 26 miles,” Martinez said.

Cadets perform road marches twice a semester, the second one in full uniform and maintaining complete platoon formation to teach them long distance platoon formation.

Some cadets will even qualify to join a team assembled by UTSA for the 24th annual Baton Memorial Death March in spring at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Cadets have to survive a 12-mile road march to be considered for the 26.2-mile march that commemorates the tens of thousands of American and Filipino warriors forced to march across the Philippines after surrendering to Japanese forces April 9, 1942.

Thousands died, weakened already by the heat, malaria and surviving on quarter- or half-rations and lack of medical care.

When cadets complete their courses at this college, they can transfer to the ROTC program at UTSA and compete for scholarships that pay 100 percent of tuition, book and fees. To be awarded, a cadet must have a competitive GPA and have passed the Army PT test.

Aside from leadership and problem-solving skills, a cadet with a bachelor’s degree and completion of the ROTC program can serve full-time, active duty as an officer of the United States Army.

For more information, call Martinez at 210-486-1481, email mmartinez742@alamo.edu or visit her office in Ashby House, 218 W. Ashby Place.

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