The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is celebrating 66 years at John Carroll University this month.
ROTC is a program for students who have ambitions of becoming a military officer to work toward that goal while obtaining a four-year degree.
Those members who complete all four years are then commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation.
Junior Cadet Connor Lynch said, “I joined because it structured my future and put me on a good path.”
The program consists of military science courses, physical training which consists of running and lifting weights and hands-on leadership labs where cadets practice things such as handling weapons, first aid and using radios.
George Vourlojianis, professor in the history department, teaches military courses such as U.S. Military History, World War II and the Vietnam War.
The ROTC program formulated in 1916 and will be celebrating its anniversary of 100 years as a whole in June. John Carroll had a V12 program during World War II and in 1950, the University president at the time, Rev. Frederick E. Welfle, S.J., asked the army to start an ROTC program at the school.
The University then built a military science building costing $100,000. In 1972, women were permitted to join the ROTC program, and in 1973, John Carroll received its first batch of women cadets. “The ROTC without the University is nothing. The partnership is what makes it a success,” said Major James Sanders of the ROTC department.
One opportunity for cadets is to go overseas for Cultural Understanding Learning Proficiency Training (CULP). Only cadets who have been contracted may apply for this opportunity. This means that they commit to a four year obligation to serve after graduation.
Cadets fill out an online application where between 600 and 800 are chosen out of 1600 applicants. These cadets are then assigned a country to go to for different types of training.
There are different types of CULP training including military-to-military contact, as well as humanitarian or civilian, where cadets serve the population. This year, three of John Carroll’s ROTC members were chosen.
Freshman Cadet Zachary Donner will be going to Madagascar. “It’s a little scary, but it will definitely help after college. [I’ll] learn how they do things and apply it over here,” said Donner.
He will be participating in military-to-military contact training, meaning he will train with Madagascar’s military in either their capital city of Antananarivo or their own version of West Point. After some preliminary training at Fort Knox, Donner will be leaving for Madagascar on May 23.
The reasoning behind these month-long trips is to make sure participants understand how not to offend the other side and to learn from their tactics. “You could be working with these people one day; they are our allies,” said Lynch.
Lynch will be going to Latvia for military-to-military contact training and will be joining other soldiers from areas such as the Baltic States, Latvia, Lithuania and Germany. He has not yet received the full details of his trip, but he knows he will be participating in an operation called “Saber Strike.”
“It’s anxious excitement; [I feel] anticipation of the unknown,” said Lynch.
Sophomore Cadet Michael Schmitz will be leaving for Honduras on June 11. In addition to military-to-military contact training with the Honduran army, he will meet the Ambassador of Honduras and receive a tour of the embassy headquarters. “I am excited. Being more culturally competent is an important skill to have,” said Schmitz.
Over the course of April, members of ROTC have participated in several events in honor of their anniversary. During the weekend of April 22-24, cadets represented John Carroll in the Mountain Man Memorial March.
This march took place in Tennessee and is done in honor of soldiers who have died in combat. The families of these fallen soldiers are called gold star families.
Schmitz said, “The most rewarding part is [representing] the gold star families. It’s nice to be there for that cause.” Those who run have a picture of the soldier they are representing attached to their back, including their years of service, rank and birth and death dates.
The march is open to ROTC programs from all over the country, as well as civilians who would like to participate. The march consists of a choice of running a marathon, a half marathon or a 10 K. Cadets can choose to run in light uniform, which is boots, army pants, t-shirt and hat, or run in full uniform along with a 35 pound backpack known as a ruck sack.
ROTC members train all semester for this annual event and members have to try out in order to make the team. This year, John Carroll’s team ran the half marathon with full uniform and ruck sack, placing second among all of the teams present.
The ROTC also has a fraternal organization called “The Pershing Rifles.” It is the oldest continuous organizations on campus.
Members ensure there is a color guard at football games, go on military maneuvers and go on trips or have parties for a social aspect.
Adviser to the group, Vourlojianis said, “I enjoy watching them mature and develop. They find a sense of place and who they are.”