Members of the University’s ROTC program participated in training exercises at the lacrosse field on Oct. 12, one of which involved the use of mock weapons.
Cadets arrived at the field at 7 a.m. dressed in boots, camouflage pants and t-shirts. They began by running laps around the track before falling in to stretch and recite the U.S. Soldier’s Creed.“I am an American Soldier,” they all said in unison, “I am a Warrior and a member of a team …”
They were training for the Ranger Challenge, a regional ROTC competition in which the University goes up against 41 other schools. According to Col. Richard Gulley, assistant professor of military science, the University took first place in the competition last year and was fourth overall in the northeast.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the ROTC program at St. John’s,” Col. Gulley said.
After their warm-up, cadets gathered in four lines at one end of the lacrosse field and proceeded with drills that utilized their strength, endurance and teamwork.
In one line, a group of cadets crawled on the ground carrying mock rifles. Once the first members reached the end of the drill area, they rose with their weapons at the ready to simulate providing cover for those following them. After everyone made it to the line, they began making their way back, shouting out commands to one another as they crawled through the imaginary battlefield.
Next to the weapons drill was the buddy carry, which involved a cadet carrying a comrade on their shoulders down the first third of the lacrosse
field before switching places for their trek back.
The buddy carry was sophomore Marissa Egipciaco’s favorite drill of the morning. “It teaches teamwork and how to help a friend out if they’re hurt,” she said.
Cadets showed their strength in the next line over, where they ran back and forth carrying a five gallon water jug in each hand, illustrating the line in the Soldier’s Creed that states, “I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.”
Endurance and teamwork was the message behind the final exercise, which consisted of two cadets hauling a massive log on their shoulders before heading back to hand it off to the next pair.
After an hour of rotating through the drills, the group fell back into formation for a cool down stretch and closing announcements.
Han Yoo, a freshman, was one of the cadets participating in the exercises that morning. He said he joined ROTC for the “good experience in leadership” that the program provides.
This initiative among younger members is looked upon fondly by James Steinberg, who will be graduating in the spring. Steinberg helped supervise the drills and could be heard shouting words of encouragement to his fellow ROTC members as they ran back and forth carrying out their tasks.
“We’re leaving it up to the juniors to lead next year,” Steinberg said. “We have high hopes for them.”