Two ROTC cadets are preparing themselves, and each other, for a competition unlike any they have seen before. Yet, with each other’s support and constant training, there’s no reason the two can’t win, they say.
CSU ROTC Cadets Dustin Mackie and Justin Kuhlmann snagged two of three spots out of the 11th Brigade to compete at the Western Region Buddy Team Competition in Fort Lewis, Wash., a challenge that will most likely turn out to be the most grueling day of their careers thus far.
The challenges the cadets will face include physical, mental and military tasks such as orienteering, a series of physical fitness tests and a 10-kilometer road march.
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew L. Groeger, a Military Sciences Professor said the challenge is considered to be one of the most demanding experiences the cadets will ever face.
“It’s both mentally and physically taxing,” Groeger said. “These guys have to be extremely motivated to do it.”
If there is anyone fit for the task though, Groeger says Mackie and Kuhlmann are the men for the job.
Earlier this year, the two were ranked number one and number two respectively out of 400 cadets across the region at another competition. These rankings were what qualified them for two spots on the three-person team.
Cadet Melissa Roush from Pittsburg State University (Kansas) holds the third position.
“These two guys are of the highest character,” Groeger said. “They’re leaders of their class and leaders of the battalion, they’ll do well.”
Mackie and Kuhlmann both said that they are excited and honored to represent their battalion and their school in the competition.
“I’m very proud,” Kuhlmann said. “It really shows how much all my hard work has paid off.”
Mackie agrees and is anticipating the event.
“It’s a chance to show what the program here at CSU has done,” Mackie said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and hope we represent well.”
Kuhlman and Mackie, both junior political science majors, have been roommates since their freshman year and have come up through ROTC together. They credit part of their success to the bond they have built over the last three years.
“I wouldn’t want to go with anyone else,” Mackie said. “He’s been a great friend and really supportive.”
Kuhlmann credits his roommate for his advancements in ROTC.
“Dustin’s one of the best cadets we have,” Kuhlmann said. “He’s always pushing me to do better.”
With the bond and the work ethic the duo shares, they feel more than ready to take on the challenge that ahead of them.
“We’ve been training for this since our freshman year,” Mackie said. “There’s no reason we can’t win it.”
Staff writer Kris Cote can be reached at email@example.com.