Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Bragging Rights

I received an email today from the Battalion Commander of the ROTC Battalion that I hang out with when I'm at home. It turns out that there are five ROTC Cadets at the school where I teach biology this year, but since my school hasn't had an ROTC program for a couple of decades now, the students have to commute down to the local Jesuit university in order to be in ROTC.

It's a thirty-minute drive if there's no traffic (a rare occurrence), each way. Cadets have to do PT Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at zero-dark-thiry, and then must attend "lab" on Wednesday afternoons. That's a lot of miles, and a lot of gas. (When I left for Summer Camp, I paid $4.75 per gallon the last time I filled up my car.) The dedication of the commuting Cadets is awesome.

Because first-year undergrads at my school aren't supposed to have cars on campus (yeah, right), the Cadre from the Jesuit school come up to us once a week to teach the first-year Military Science course. Seeing as I'm probably one of the very few Reservists working where I do, I decided I'd ask my National Guard Battalion Commander at the time for his permission to put on my uniform once a week, so I could attend class with the Cadets, as a way of letting them know that someone in the military on campus 'has their back'.

I also figured I could probably learn something myself, since I was going into this thing knowing less than nothing about the military!

My former Battalion Commander in the Guard has been in the military for more than 20 years now, and has been branched Infantry, Chemical, and Quartermaster (Combat Arms, Combat Support, and Combat Service Support) -- in other words, he's done it all. An awesome leader, who really has a heart for his Soldiers, LTC W played a huge role in getting me into the Army in the first place, but that's another story (and so fraught with ridiculousness I suspect I'd get in a lot of trouble, should I relate it here)....

The Colonel told me I could do that, as long as I agreed to stay in uniform the whole day. "You know how leftist they are there. Seeing you in uniform will be good for them," said he.

So, all last year I went to class with the Cadets (almost) every week, and then went about the rest of my day at work, in uniform. No one ever said a single negative thing to me (at least in my hearing!) during all that time.

So much for the place being irremediably leftist, I guess!

The Cadets are wonderful young women and men, and have proved themselves again and again to be among the most accomplished Cadets in the Battalion. I managed to convince the ROTC Battalion Commander to let me run PT on Wednesday mornings at school, so the students wouldn't have to commute *twice* down to the Jesuit school that day. He was understandably cautious at first, but relented. After we began this program, all of the Stanford Cadets increased their PT scores (a couple, rather dramatically).

This year, they're running the program themselves, as yet another testimony to their leadership abilities.

Because of the strain on resources posed by the wars over here and in Afghanistan, the summer training opportunities for ROTC Cadets have diminished. The Battalion Commander was led to believe that each ROTC program in his region was going to be limited to two internships each, this coming summer.

His email to me just indicated that all three of *my* sophomore Cadets have been picked up for the summer internships they applied for. Hooray!!!

Way to go, Cadets Ann, Jimmy, and Oliver! I'm proud to be associated with you. (And I'm especially envious of you, Oliver, going to Thailand!)

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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