This college’s ROTC program loses instructor

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Ret. Major Monica Martinez's ROTC students practice a cadence during lab Feb. 18 on the tennis court north of Candler. Maj. Martinez's contract was terminated earlier this semester. File

Ret. Major Monica Martinez’s ROTC students practice a cadence during lab Feb. 18 on the tennis court north of Candler. Maj. Martinez’s contract was terminated earlier this semester. File

Contract was terminated because military downsizing nationwide, says PAC instructor.

By Richard Montemayor

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Contract was terminated because military downsizing nationwide, says PAC instructor.

An ROTC instructor at Palo Alto College confirmed this week that retired U.S. Army Maj. Monica Martinez no longer teaches ROTC at this college or at Palo Alto.

Martinez, who taught on this campus for 10 years including a portion of this semester, was a contractor hired by a Virginia company, said Army 1st Sgt. Kevin Ballenger, an ROTC instructor at Texas State University and a lead instructor at Palo Alto College.

Martinez did not respond to numerous emails and phone calls from The Ranger over the last several weeks.

Twenty students were in this college’s ROTC program at the beginning of the semester, Martinez told The Ranger in September.

Capt. Buck Kellogg, executive officer with the Army ROTC program at the University of Texas at San Antonio, is substituting as an ROTC instructor here now, said Dr. Conrad Krueger, this college’s dean of arts and sciences.

“At least through the spring,” the ROTC classes will continue as normal with no changes, “except for perhaps the instructor,” Krueger told The Ranger in an email.

Efforts to reach Kellogg were unsuccessful.

Ballenger attributed the termination of Martinez’s contract to overall budget cuts and downsizing. Last year, the U.S. Army announced it had earmarked 13 ROTC programs nationwide for possible closure by 2015, according to www.army.mil.

The 13 did not include this college’s program or any in San Antonio. Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reported in February the federal government is eyeing low-performing ROTC programs for the chopping block.

“I think with all the cutbacks in funding and government, the contractors at the ROTC were hit hard,” Ballenger said Monday. “Of all the ROTC programs in the United States, they left one contractor per campus, so that leaves a lot of shortages.”

He added: “ROTC hires out government contractors to help assist and instruct military science due to the fact a lot of active-duty people are doing a lot of active-duty stuff in different locations.”

The ROTC program, which has been at this college since 2004, is for students who want to become officers in the U.S. Army. The cadets learn everything from land navigation to combat water survival tactics.

About 50 percent complete such community college programs, and many from this college transition to ROTC programs at UTSA, St. Mary’s University or Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Ballenger said.

The U.S. Army Cadet Command oversees ROTC programs throughout the U.S.

Ballenger said an active-duty instructor will probably take over at this college.

“As far as getting the contractors out here again, I don’t see that happening,” Ballenger said. “They’re going to try to make this more military service uniform-wearing people to teach all the classes at this point.”

In a September interview, Martinez stressed the importance of the ROTC program.

“The whole goal of the program is that it’s an officer-producing program, meaning once they finish their four-year degree — hopefully at UTSA or Texas State — they’ll earn a commission in the United States Army as a second lieutenant,” she said.

At that time, she shared her reasons for teaching ROTC.

“It’s got nothing to do with making money here,” she said. “I know that I will never get rich on this job. However, my reward is that every year I see two or three cadets that are products of SAC that have become second lieutenants, and for me that is reward enough.”

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