By Holly Michele Naylor
“It’s good to just go out there and shoot somebody else’s ammo,” Ian Hammond, sophomore psychology major, said about basic rifle marksmanship, his favorite training exercise for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
ROTC was established by Woodrow Wilson in the 1920s in an attempt to instill a military interest in college students. ROTC has been at Union University since the spring of 2008, and the number of members is increasing.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, ROTC members meet for physical training at 6:30 a.m., where they run, do sit-ups, pushups and other endurance activities. On Wednesdays, they attend a lecture at Jackson State Community College where they learn basic skills implemented in the labs on Thursdays at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Training exercises during Thursday labs include various activities. Cadets are given a map and compass and told to find specific points in the field when learning land navigation. Repelling down the sides of buildings is a highlight for several students, as well as playing paintball. Participating in obstacle courses and learning how to march properly are also part of their criteria.
ROTC is still stabilizing its place in the Jackson community, but it is already involved in some events and programs. Cadets and officers sponsor all high school events for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. They judge competitions among JROTC members on marching and facing movements. Color Guard presented the flags at the Veteran’s Day parade on Nov. 7. They have also carried the flags at UTM football games and a Memorial Day picnic in Obion County in Tennessee.
Since ROTC has been at Union for only a short period of time, one might believe its impact in the Jackson area is rather small. However, Capt. Jeff Crawford disagrees.
“Our cadets are committing to something bigger than themselves,” Crawford said. “We’ve got the best military in the world, and we graduate out of our program active Army, Army Reserve and National Guard.”
Aaron Rowland, sophomore media communications major, said ROTC has helped him develop both mentally and physically.
“My leadership, my personality and how I deal with situations has changed,” Rowland said. “Now I’m a representative of something that has a real, tangible value in the community. It’s really given me a sense of responsibility that I do represent the Army when I’m wearing this uniform.”
Hammond said he values a different aspect of being involved in ROTC.
“I enjoy the opportunity to be around a bunch of guys that have actually been overseas and served our country in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Hammond said. “Getting to know them and being a part of something like that with people who are willing to go out and fight for us is encouraging.”