While others were sleeping in and playing video games this summer, members of the New River Battalion were training.
Eighty-five cadets attended Cadet Summer Training (CST) at Fort Knox, Kentucky. This is a 30-day leadership development and assessment course that uses infantry tactical scenarios and prolonged field conditions (19 days). Cadets attend the summer before their senior year.
Twelve cadets attended the Army’s Airborne, Air Assault, and Master Fitness Trainer courses, competing for top honors alongside active duty soldiers.
These weren’t traditional classroom-based courses — these cadets parachuted from aircraft in flight and rappelled from Blackhawk helicopters! They took part in internship programs at a Louisiana broadcasting company, the National Security Agency, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Lab, where innovative defense technologies are researched and tested.
Fourteen Virginia Tech cadets traveled to Army installations in the continental United States, Hawaii, and overseas to experience the day-to-day life of soldiers in the Cadet Troop Leader Training program. Twenty-nine cadets traveled to 14 countries to take part in the Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program, fostering a closer relationship between the United States and our allies. Another 13 cadets traveled to four countries with Project Global Officer to further their foreign language skills.
Below you will get a sampling of the summer experiences of our cadets.
Nathan Markley ’19
My time at Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, was memorable with lots of new learning experiences and adversity. We were thrown into a platoon of 40+ cadets and expected to not only live and work together, but also to get along with each other. It was definitely something new for me! I believe that coming from a program like the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and Virginia Tech Army ROTC truly prepared me for camp and allowed me to excel above my peers. While at camp, I received the RECONDO Award, which is given to those who completed all basic soldiering tasks at an advanced level. One of the biggest lessons I learned there was to not give up on yourself. I did not expect to earn the RECONDO badge because I believed that I scored less than the required 90 percent on one of the earliest tests. Instead of just getting the minimal standards from that point on, I strove to get the highest scores possible. Only in the very end did I learn that I scored high enough on all the tasks at camp to receive the award. I earned the RECONDO badge because I never quit on myself and always tried to do the best I possibly could. (Note to readers: Only one or two cadets per 600-person regiment earned RECONDO.)
Davronbek Zaynetdinov ’19
During my Cadet Troop Leader Training experience, I traveled to the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, to observe a platoon leader of a mounted reconnaissance platoon. I was able to participate in a team-level situational training exercise, an eight-mile dismounted insertion followed by reconnaissance patrols, observation post establishment, and Fast Rope Insertion and Extraction System training. I shadowed a variety of officers with various specialties to further develop my understanding of the Army profession. I was introduced to new concepts and was physically tested and mentally challenged. This experience better prepared me to lead my own platoon in the future by providing me with more tools to make me successful. I am thankful for all the mentorship and first-hand experience this opportunity provided.
Kevin Leinberger ’19
I took part in Operation Saber Strike in Latvia, along with a number of other ROTC cadets, as part of a Cultural Understanding and Leadership Program mission. We were integrated into a Latvian light infantry company with two American cadets per squad. I was assigned as the assistant machine gunner to my new Latvian friend, Andrejs Podans. I learned that, despite having a small army, Latvian soldiers are extremely professional and highly motivated to defend their homeland against any aggressor. I think the greatest moment of my trip occurred during a defense-in-depth, when my squad delayed the forward movement of an enemy platoon of Slovakian armored vehicles so the rest of our unit could move to our next defensive line. As I approach my commissioning date, I will take comfort in knowing that I will be part of a multi-national force composed of NATO nations who fight for a common cause.