It’s 5:50 a.m. on a dark, dreary morning. The cadets crowd into the Student Recreation Center. The third and fourth year military science students are ready for physical training, or PT in Army ROTC-speak.
A third-year cadet leads the platoon in a series of stretches. He sounds off the name of each exercise.
“The side-straddle hop!” he shouts.
“The side-straddle hop!” the platoon booms in unison.
The group breaks into jumping jacks at that instruction.
This is a normal morning for members of the Ram Battalion. Physical training is a requirement for scholarship and to more than 60 contracted cadets in the military sciences Army ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Program).
Monday, Wednesday and Friday consist of working out, building morale and preparing for the summer after their junior year in Ft. Lewis, Washington. There, they will face five weeks of training – 32 days of constant testing on everything they could have been possibly taught for the past three years.
Jordan Smith, a senior health and exercise science major, has known what he has wanted to do with his life since he was a high school junior.
“When 9/11 happened, men and women volunteered to be a part of something great, to be part of history,” he said. “It’s a calling.”
The Army commissions about 4,000 college graduates every year, with more than 75 percent coming from ROTC.
At CSU, many of the cadets are full-time students and some even hold part-time jobs.
Master Sgt. Raymundo Zayasbazan, or “Sgt. Z” as he is commonly called by the program’s cadets, is the Commandant of Cadets and also the third-year instructor. He said a primary goal of his is to instill leadership skills in the cadets and prepare them for the Leader Development and Assessment Course.
The LDAC is the capstone training event for ROTC, said Maj. Andrew Groeger, professor of military science and overseer of the entire Corps of Cadets.
Originating in the 1980s, the LDAC is a way to make sure all 273 schools with ROTC programs in the country meet the high standards required of these future officers. The course determines which branch of the military cadets will enter and where they will be stationed.
Seniors who have completed LDAC mentor the junior class as it prepares for the course.
Groeger said the corps is a family, and that everyone is accountable to each other.
“You go through trials together, tough times together and when you do that you bond together,” he said. “All of the studies that have ever been done about combat and what makes men and women fight in combat essentially conclude that they don’t fight for personal glory or patriotism. They fight for the person in their platoon to their right and left of them, and to make sure that they get home.”
Staff writer Adrian Garcia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.