ROTC cadets discover their future paths
Jen Rainey | Collegio Reporter
For many students, graduation is the time to search for a job. For Eric Harden, graduation means finding out where he will be stationed in the Army. Harden is one of 18 ROTC members who will be graduating and leaving for duty.
“I’m ready to go start my career and be out of school,” said Harden, senior in general studies.
Harden says he will be stationed at Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla., from May 23 until October. While there, Harden will be training in a field artillery officer course. He will be transferred to Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga., in October, where he will attend airborne and ranger school for about 60 days. Harden says he doesn’t know where he will be stationed after that.
“The thing about the Army and ROTC is what they put into it is what they get out of it,” said Capt. Drew Polen.
Polen says where they get stationed is based 40 percent on their cumulative GPA and 60 percent on leadership attributes, potential and performance while in leadership, and how they did at Warrior Forge between their junior and senior years. Polen says Warrior Forge is where ROTC cadets get placed in leadership roles with a task of jobs. They are judged on how well they execute and do these tasks. Harden says Fort Sill wasn’t his first choice of post location, nor airborne his first pick of jobs.
“I was disappointed at first because I wanted infantry,” Harden said. “Looking back on it now, this would’ve been my first choice.”
Harden will be leaving behind his 7-month-old son, something he hates to do.
“It will be my first time away from him, but I’ll Skype his mom and she can put him on there,” Harden said.
Shawn Fitch says he will be getting married in June before departing for Fort Benning.
“One of the Army values is selfless service and right now I’m putting the Army first,” said Fitch, graduate student in human resource development. “Both Reba [Fitch’s fiancée] and I understand that, and we’re taking it in stride. I have no doubts.”
Fitch says he will go through officer training for the infantry for six months. He won’t find out where he’s going after that until he arrives at Fort Benning. Fitch’s fiancé is in veterinary school at the University of Missouri. Therefore, she won’t be moving with Fitch. He says they plan to keep in touch via Skype, letters and seeing each other while on vacations.
“This is a great opportunity to serve my country, but also prepares me professionally for not only my Army career, but the rest of my life,” Fitch said.
Lt. Col. Christopher Lambert teaches the senior ROTC class during the fall and spring semesters.
“I can definitely tell a difference from when I met these cadets in the fall to when they walk across the stage,” Lambert said. “I think they’re now ready to go off and lead soldiers.”
Other ROTC cadets who will be graduating include Jared Bier, senior in history; Abraham Beyene, senior in general studies; Shannon Dunkle, senior in psychology; Christopher Fite, senior in psychology; Amanda Floyd, senior in nursing; Kole Giles, senior in business management; Michael McGill, senior in computer science; Lucian Myers, senior in history; Orey Parks, senior in criminal justice; Rachel Patrick, senior in nursing; Christopher Powers, senior in communication; Nicholas Purtle, senior in engineering technology; Harold Rivard, senior in psychology; Andrew Thomas, senior in justice studies; Jesse West, senior in justice studies, and Callie Wheeler, senior in psychology. The cadets will be commissioned into lieutenants on Friday, May 11 at 10 a.m. in the Veterans Memorial.