Looking For Future Air Force Leaders In Technology

Middleton High School JROTC cadet Lt. Col. Carlos Martinez and Coast Guard pilot Justin Neal during STEM Day at MacDill AFB.

Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base put on an impressive show of skill and threw in a bit of fun for some 1200 school students who visited the base this month to check out military careers linked to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Never before in our nation’s history have we depended more on technology and the application of technology to win – not only in the air – but in space and in cyber space,” said MacDill Commander Col. April Vogel. “You know our mission is to fly, fight and win. So, we need to create people who can do that. And there are some amazing young minds here today which is why this is so special.” Continue reading

Army ROTC Hosts Annual Golf Scramble

USF ARMY ROTC golf scrambleAs we near Veterans Day, a lot of people are looking for ways to honor veterans and those currently serving. If you play golf or just have fun on the links, here’s an opportunity to support young men and women training to become Army officers.

It’s the 11th Annual University of South Florida Army ROTC Golf Scramble – a rich tradition that helps fund Army ROTC current and future programs.

The event is scheduled Nov. 14, 2014, at Heritage Isles Golf and Country Club, 10630 Plantation Bay Drive, Tampa, FL. The Golf Scramble begins at 7:30am.

In addition to contributing to an organization that strives to build competent and confident cadets, it’s also an opportunity to meet our future 2nd Lieutenants that will be leading our sons and daughters in the U.S. Army. You can register and find more information about teams and sponsorships at USF Army ROTC Golf Scramble website.

The Citadel Trained Me as Well as My Son

Dorie's son, Nelson (center), poses with other ROTC cadets from his Regiment during the summer LDAC.

The cadets at The Citadel form a tight bond. And as I mentioned in the earlier blog How The Citadel Ya-Ya’s Came to Be, I found a group of good friends as well. Now that I’m making the mental transition from being the mom of a cadet to being the mom of an Army 2LT in less than five months, I’ve learned the network of mom’s only increases.

This past summer my son attended the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. About 6,400 Army ROTC cadets from around the country passed through LDAC last summer. LDAC is a 29 day leadership test. The ROTC cadets are graded on a series of challenges. That grade is added to the grade they receive from the ROTC program at their school.

Ultimately these scores and their grade point average and a few other factors will determine where they will be assigned within the Army after graduation.

The Public Affairs Office (PAO) there kept up a blog and a Facebook page to keep the parents, wives, husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends informed. They’d post updates on the schedule, information on how to send mail, photos from the various challenges and also provided live streaming of the graduation ceremony. This was my first introduction to the wider dimensions of being an Army family.

Cadets from 5th Regiment at their graduation ceremony. Photo by Jesse Beals.

I combed the blog and Facebook site daily looking for a photo of our cadet. For 29 days I had no sign of him. Then the day after graduation, they posted a photo of  the cadets marching to graduation. There he was on the far right in front carrying the Platoon Guidon!

I was introduced to parents across the country through the Facebook site. We had our own discussion group on the Facebook page for parents of cadets.  There were also discussion groups for spouses and girlfriends. It did appear the wives, moms and girlfriends were the most active on the discussion boards. An occasional dad would chime in. I also learned the Army is active in social media and several discussion boards are available.

The experience helped me see that the training my son received at The Citadel prepared him for the challenge of LDAC.  What I also realized is that The Citadel experience prepared me well to send him off to this challenge. It never occurred to me to be concerned whether he passed the PT test, as so many other parents on the boards were. The Citadel has a very rigorous program and physical training is one of my son’s real strengths.

The group photo is of 5th Regiment Platoon A posted by the PAO of LDAC at Joint Base Lewis McChord.

Many of the posts were of family members upset that they couldn’t talk to their cadet for most of the 29 day experience. The cadets’ phones are locked up the first few days and returned later. I had already gone through that communication shut down during the first week of my son’s first year and then again the year my son tried out for the Summerall Guards.

I don’t for one second equate what I went through as a parent supporting my son at The Citadel with the challenges of an Army ROTC cadet. And it is absolutely not in the same category as that of the parent of a deployed soldier.  However, I do see that being the parent of a Citadel cadet is great training for the tougher challenges of being the mom of a young Army officer.

Boy, did I need that training.  I had no idea at that time how useful all of those experiences would be later on for understanding, accepting and supporting a young Army officer. I am now very grateful to have been a distant companion to our son on the road less traveled.

Helpful links:

Leader Development and Assessment Course

Operation WarriorForge

Army Social Media Handbook 2011

Army Social Networks

As Veterans Celebrate, A New Marine Joins

New Marine Jared Agle already has his first stripe for ROTC service and first ribbon for joining during wartime.

Jared Agle decided years ago he wanted to be a Marine. He spent his years in high school preparing for it. And when the time came, he convinced his mother to sign off. He left for boot camp in August weeks before his 18th birthday.

I met Jared because his mom April works here at WUSF Public Media in the business office. Agle returned last Friday after 13 weeks of basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina.

In this week that the country is honoring its veterans, Agle shared what it’s like to be at the beginning of that journey to serve his country.

It started with his late-night arrival at camp. Getting off the bus the Marine recruits are ordered to keep their heads down and not look up. The DIs – or Drill Instructors – run them from station to station filling out paperwork, picking up uniforms, having their hair sheared off.

Agle, fresh from boot camp, shares what it's like to become a Marine.

Agle didn’t sleep his first night there. He laid in his “rack”, his mind racing with all sorts of questions: “You’re kind of like, is it going to be this bad the whole time? Am I going to be able to make it? Am I going to be able to sleep?”

He wasn’t used to being “hollered at.” Yet, Agle said he never questioned his choice to join the Marines. His most difficult challenge during the training, the DIs told Agle his voice wasn’t loud enough.

“One time I had to scream at a wall until it moved,” Agle said.

April Agle and her son, USMC Private First Class Jared Agle, 18.

More than a dozen family members attended Agle’s graduation. His sister decorated the family car writing “USMC Graduate” on the back. So the entire trip home, passing cars pulled up alongside honked and gave Agle a “thumbs up.”

That’s when the realization hit Agle, he is now part of “the Corps.”

“It’s definitely worth it,” Agle said. He already has his first stripe because he was in high school ROTC. And he has earned his first ribbon, the defense ribbon for joining the military while the country is at war.

USMC Private First Class Agle, 18, leaves for infantry school on Monday.

You can listen to Agle talk about his first few months spent becoming a Marine during a WUSF radio interview with me.

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