William & Mary ROTC cadets shine in summer programs| October 20, 2009
Several of William & Mary's ROTC cadets received accolades this summer for their participation in ROTC events and programs.
Kirsten Bertsch '10, an English major who will be commissioned into the Army in May 2010, was one of eight ROTC cadets to earn the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement this summer. The eight cadets were selected out of more than 4,700 rising seniors from across the nation who were eligible for the award.
The award is presented to outstanding third-year ROTC cadets for scholastic and military excellence. Retired Marine Brig. Gen. Edwin Kelley presented the award to Bertsch during the ROTC's annual "Getting On Point" kick-off event at Fort Eustis on Aug. 29.
Additionally this summer, two William & Mary cadets attended the U.S. Army's Air Assault School. Lindsy Grunow '10 attended the school at West Point, N.Y., and Harrison Mann '11 attended at Fort Knox, Ky.
The school aims to prepare soldiers to conduct air assault operations via helicopter. The 10-day course involves intensive classroom and hands-on training in areas including combat assault, "sling load" operations and rappelling from helicopters. Cadets are not even considered students in the course until the make it through "Day Zero," which includes an obstacle course, two-mile run and rigorous inspection. According to one instructor, "Air Assault school is the toughest 10 days in the Army."
Another William & Mary ROTC cadet, Adam Grover '11, attended Robin Sage this summer. According to an Army press release, "Robin Sage is designed to provide realistic training in unconventional warfare tactics and techniques." The exercise serves as the culmination of training for prospective Special Forces Soldiers.
Four William & Mary cadets attended the Leader Training Course at Fort Knox, Ky. Grover, Erin Brady ‘09, Veda Igbinedion, and Andrew Rampp '11 participated in the training, which is designed to qualify college students with little or no experience in ROTC for the senior track of the program. All four William & Mary cadets received scholarships at the end of the training.
Brady and Igbinedion are unusual in the fact that they entered ROTC as graduate students at William & Mary. Brady is pursuing her graduate studies in the College's School of Education, and Igbinedion is enrolled in the William & Mary Law School. Now that they've completed the Leader Training Course, the Army is picking up the tab for their graduate school studies.
Additionally this summer, 13 William & Mary seniors attended the Leader Development Assessment Course -- "Warrior Forge" -- at Fort Lewis, Wash. All rising senior cadets from around the nation converge at the base of Mt. Rainier each summer for this course to be tested in their skills as an officer. The five-week course is the capstone experience for all ROTC cadets, designed to qualify them to become Army officers. The course tests cadets in a variety of mental and physical areas. Each of the cadets is placed in leadership positions throughout the experience, many of which involve combat situation simulations. The cadets must fulfill a variety of tasks in areas such as basic rifle marksmanship, land navigation, hand grenade operations and nuclear, biological, chemical warfare.
The William & Mary seniors who earned an "Excellent" rating in the course are: Russell Baker, Andrew Leyes, Amy Rarig, and Justin Sheppard.Also, senior Spencer Sullivan graduated as "Recondo" -- honorary graduate --from the course.
Following LDAC, seniors Kurt Carlson and Justin Sheppard shadowed platoon leaders in active Army units to learn about real-life Army operations. Carlson trained with a Field Artillery Unit in the 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Stewart, Ga., and Sheppard trained with a Field Artillery Unit in the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y.
For more about William & Mary's ROTC program, visit http://www.wm.edu/as/militaryscience/.