GKBs Toughest: The Ranger Challenge Team

Every year in the Fall, the ROTC battalions in each brigade assemble for their annual Ranger Challenge Competition. Ranger Challenge, often called the “varsity sport” of Army ROTC, is a mult-event competition in basic warrior skills such as: rifle marksmanship, land navigation, weapon assembly and disassembly, first aid, and crossing a one-rope bridge (click links for videos).

Every battalion sends their top 10 Cadets to compete in the Ranger Challenge competition. This squad, that represents the battalion’s best-trained Cadets, competes to be the top ranked in each event and overall among the other schools in their brigade.

The Cadets that participate in the Golden Knight Battalion Ranger Challenge Team are some of the most dedicated and hard-working Cadets in the whole battalion. These Cadets train hard throughout the Fall semester, until the big brigade competition.

The GKB Ranger Challenge team is physically and mentally tough. They are highly trained and highly proficient in their specialized tasks. They put in the extra time to make sure they are successful every year at the Ranger Challenge competition.

GKB Ranger Challenge Cadets are the best, and they have a long heritage of success in the annual 2nd “Freedom” Brigade competition. They regularly dominate the 41 universities and colleges in the brigade, which spans 9 different states in the northeast United States.

The GKB Ranger Challenge team has recently taken first place in the regional competition in 2007, and before that in 2001. The GKB team regularly places in the top overall rankings, with first-place wins in several events.

This year, the GKB team placed 3rd overall in the 2nd “Freedom” Brigade competition at Camp Smith, NY, beating 38 other schools in the competition. Congratulations 2010 GKB Ranger Challenge Team!

2010 GKB Ranger Challenge Team Roster

  • Mark Lucas (Captain, ’11)
  • Colby Sortevik (Captain, ’11)
  • Charles Rugg (’11)
  • Erin McTarnaghan (’11)
  • Charles Brewer (’11)
  • Tim Nevin (’12)
  • Russ Austin (’12)
  • Steve Strait (’13)
  • Devin Hallam (’13)
  • Andrew Christian (’13)
  • Jayson Keys (Alternate, ’11)
  • Major Joe Roller (PMS)
  • Captain Dan McCarthy (Cadre)
  • Master Sergeant Mark Empey (Cadre)
  • Sergeant First Class Anoldo Polonco (Cadre)



Army ROTC is…an Opportunity (Part 2 of 3)

Any Degree, Any School

ROTC Cadets can use their scholarship to pursue a myriad of academic interests at over 1,100 universities in the United States. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a literature major, a theoretical physics major, or a vocal performance major, you can pursue your dream education in ROTC.

The Golden Knight Battlion is the host ROTC program for four outstanding schools in upstate New York. They include: St. Lawrence University, a prestigious liberal arts school with a long and proud heritage; Clarkson University, an advanced technological and research university; SUNY Potsdam, a liberal arts college that also hosts a nearly 200-year-old education school  as well as the nationally-renowned Crane School of Music; and SUNY Canton, Northern New York’s school for health, technology, and public service.

GKB Cadets have done it all. Our Cadets have graduated from rigorous aeronautical engineering programs at Clarkson, have graduated to become schoolteacher from Saint Lawrence University, have completed degrees and internships in law enforcement and criminal justice at SUNY Canton, and have completed double (and even triple) majors at SUNY Potsdam. There is truly no limit to your academics in the Golden Knight Battalion. 

Become a Part of the Army Officer Heritage

At the end of every Cadet’s ROTC career, each will be comissioned as an Officer in the United States Army. This is different from traditional enlistment in the Army. Officers are the military’s executives. They provide the knowledge and leadership for the greatest organization in the world.

Some of the most notable ROTC graduates include: Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; George C. Marshall, former Chief of Staff of the Army, and even Samuel Walton, founder of Walmart. Army ROTC laid the foundation for their success. Even SUNY Canton’s President, Dr. Joseph Kennedy is a product of Army ROTC

 Generations of alumni from the decades-old Golden Knight Battalion have moved on from their Army careers to greatness. They serve as leaders of their companies and their communities. GKB alumni that are still serving are currently deployed throughout the world defending the United States of America. Your contribution to the heritage of America can begin in the Army ROTC.

A Variety of Career Fields

An Army career is definitely unique. No other job gives you the opportunity to command a tank or fly an attack helicopter. As a millitary Officer, you can take responsibililty for millions of dollars worth of the most cutting-edge technology and weaponry.

But an Army career can also be more than tanks and helicopters. There are 24 different career branhes (and a multitude of additional career fields) to choose from as an Army Officer. These choices range from careers in diplomacy to cyber security and high-tech communications. When you leave military service, you will have these unique skills that cannot be found anyplace else.

GKB alumni have served in every career branch, and have moved on to receive additional training and post-graduate education to fill position in specialized career fields. They have served in military staff positions and have even gone abroad to train foreign military and police forces. There is no limit to the career potential of an ROTC alumni, whether inside or outside of the Army.

See Part 1 – ROTC is…An Opportunity (Part 1 of 3)

GKB Cadet Profile: Lorin Smith

The career of an ROTC Cadet is filled with a variety of opportunities and experiences. Many of these experiences can be very meaningful. Some can be unforgettable.

Cadet Lorin Smith, a GKB Senior had one of these unforgettable experiences last summer at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. She participated in a Cadet Troop Leadership Training (CTLT) program where she was able to work alongside working troops and get valuable leadership experience early on.

During her CTLT tour, Lorin worked directly beside a Medical Service Lieutenant in a Combat Medic Training Battalion. They practiced field training and setting up emergency aid stations.

One of the most significant experiences of her tour was when she had the chance to tour Brooke Army Medical Center, one of the Army’s premiere hospitals and host to the top-rated burn unit in the United States. As an aspiring Medical Service Officer, Lorin was excited to see the place that represented the leading edge in her chosen career field.

She was very moved by what she saw at The Center for the Intrepid (CFI), a rehabilitation center for wounded Soldiers either with amputations or severe burns. Although the CFI is located at Brooke Army Medical Center, it was privately funded with over 600,000 private donations via the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. At the center, “wounded warriors” learn how to live ordinary lives in apartments that can be tailored to accommodate their injuries or disabilities.

Cadet Smith aspires to attend graduate school to become a professional counselor after she commissions as a Medical Service Lieutenant. During her CTLT tour and her tour of The Center for the Intrepid she felt like she was looking directly into the future of her career. 

Lorin says she is very grateful for the opportunity that ROTC has provided her in fulfilling her lifelong career goals.


“If It Ain’t Raining, We Ain’t Training!” [photos]

“Heavy Traffic” | Jason Hunter – Watertown Daily Times

Last week, the Golden Knight Battalion conducted individual movement techniques (IMT) training on the lawn in front of Clarkson U’s Hamlin-Powers residence hall in Potsdam, NY.

Major Toth summed it up with an early Facebook post that was not only prescient, but ominous.

Scott Toth: Pouring rain for IMT lab…just like we planned it #GKB

Every year we do this lab around the same date, and every year we can count on some pretty foul weather. Rain and cold are an IMT lab tradition.

This past year’s weather upheld that tradition. In the few hours that the GKB was out training, Potsdam was slammed with 3.38 inches of rainfall all at once (for some perspective, this amount of rain represented half of Potsdam’s rainfall during the entire month of September!).

Here are some photos of the training:

Ready for the coming rain and wearing wet-weather parkas, Senior Cadet Hewitt helps sophomore Cadet Empey apply facial camouflage.

Cadets start IMT training by learning how to move on the ground and staying low. We start in the open so we can spot each other and make sure we do it right.

After training in the open, we move to an assault course. Cadet Kanaly takes a second from a tough low-crawl to cheese for the camera.

Near the end of training, everybody was pretty soggy from rolling around in the storm. Brrrrrr...

 The training ended, and the GKB Cadets headed home to dry off. Many of them were so excited they recorded their thoughts with their own Facebook posts.

Here’s an early one from Cadet Christian:

CDT Christian: Hooah! Just one word to describe it all.

Here are some more early reports from Cadets Phillips and Lampert:

CDT Phillips: I think I’ll be soaking wet until next Tuesday. I love the Army [editor’s note: he was not actually wet the following Tuesday]

CDT Lampert: There’s nothing like rolling around in the mud for two hours to make you feel awesome!!!

And here is a funny one from Cadet Addington:

CDT Addington: I rolled around in a swamp today. Brought me back to my days in ‘Nam. [editor’s note: Addington was not actually in Vietnam]

It wasn’t too long before the downpour that drenched and excited these cadets began flooding the streets of Potsdam. It also caused the Raquette River to flood over the banks and bridges. This brought some more responses from GKB cadets on Facebook.

Here’s a portrait of the situation from Cadet Pecka:

CDT Pecka: Dear Potsdam, if you could stop raining that would be amazing. Everything I have worn today is soaked and thus so is my apartment. the roads and parking lots are flooded and all you hear in the buildings is the squeaking of someones sneakers. All of this nonsense and you don’t even have the kindness to give us thunder and lighting with it to enjoy. Shame on you Potsdam, I thought better of you.

One GKB Cadet got stranded when a bridge leading out-of-town was closed.

CDT Empey: Well I did enjoy the rain at lab today, but now I’m stranded in Potsdam with none of the homework I need…they closed the bridge between Potsdam and Wal-Mart. I might try to head back home again soon…good thing I’ve got an extra pair of PTs in my car.

Our Senior Military Instructor, Master Sergeant Empey sent this jibe to a senior GKB cadet who couldn’t make it to the lab:

MSG Empey: Mr. Ables, wish you could have been there with us today. As an aviation guy, you won’t have many more chances to get dirty or wet!

The GKB Cadet Battalion Commander summarized the day’s events with a nostalgic look to when he was a freshman Cadet crawling through the rain-soaked grass himself:

CDT Rugg: What a great IMT lab! I would kill to be a freshman doing it all over again. Time goes by way too fast!

The IMT lab was a great time, and was proof that tough training in adverse circumstances often leads to outstanding esprit de corps!


GKB Alumni Update: Major George Rollinson ’99

We recently receieved a letter from Major George Rollinson, a 1999 SUNY Potsdam and GKB alum.

He has been deployed in Kandahar, Afghanistan and thanked Shirley after receiving a SUNY Potsdam pennant and a Golden Knight Battalion coin.

He begins his message by relaying a few coincidental run-ins with other GKB alumni who are also deployed in Afghanistan.

I finally mailed the pics.  Not sure how you can use them though.  You can tell the PMS that I carry the coin around with me, and already showed it off to a graduate of Clarkson ROTC. I didn’t even realize… 
I worked with a budget Major about once a week on an adjacent post about 15 minutes away.  When I told her I went to my ROTC on R&R leave she started asking questions…. And ?  She was MAJ Kathy Neumann (married, I can’t remember her maiden name) and worked as a Gold-Bar Recruiter from St Lawrence.  I think she graduated in 1997 because she was a year ahead of Tracy Hatch but played on the same field hockey team?  I want to say her name was Geddie?  Small world huh?

He also sent some photos that he has taken while deployed in Afghanistan, and described them in his message…

The first pic has a SUNY Potsdam pennant 🙂  in front of a B-1 that flies over Afghanistan.  They said it flew over Afghanistan and can do other University pennants if you send it soon.

The second pic was when I was the Ground Liaison Officer for the A-10s in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  We told pilots where to go to support Soldiers and Marines from the whole coalition including US, Brits, French, and Dutch.  Pretty cool time there.   I even go to do a marathon there with all the energy bars from the Food Co-op you sent me.  Thanks again!  They were awesome.

The last pic was when the Legends of NHL came to the air base in Kandahar and played against some of the coalition teams on a concrete rink.  They brought the Cup with them and had people take pics in front of it.  I actually bring the penneant around with me now hoping to spot some other cool picture opportunities. 
Thanks again for everything. See you soon maybe!!!!
MAJ, LG (QM @ Heart)

Thanks for your message, Major Rollinson! We appreciate everything you do, and thank you for serving as a U.S. Army Officer!


Army ROTC is…an Education (Part 1 of 3)

A University Scholarship

Many high school seniors and college underclassmen wonder how they are going to pay for – or continue to pay for – their college degree. The Army ROTC offers two-, three-, or four-year full-tuition scholarships to help college students pay for the degree of their choice.

There are over 1,100 universities across the United States where you can receive an ROTC scholarship and pursue your academic interests in college. You can get a diploma with Army ROTC.

When joining the Golden Knight Battalion, you can attend one of our four associated Upstate New York universities (Clarkson U, St. Lawrence U, SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Canton). Within these four schools, you can find educational opportunities everywhere from cutting-edge research and technology to liberal arts (language, humanities, art, music, etc.), and even vocational degree programs like education and criminal justice.

A Physical Education

The Army Officer is physically and mentally tough. This happens through a process of physical training and conditioning. The Army Officer is truly a professional athlete.

ROTC Cadets train daily to be their physical best. Building a foundation of fitness not only enhances their lives and careers as Army Officers, but instills good habits that pay off for the rest of their lives.

At the Golden Knight Battalion, we not only train to be our physical best by doing standardized physical training, but also train in outdoor events like climbing and ruck-marching (hiking) in the scenic North Country. We also participate in several intramural sports like soccer, hockey, and basketball.

Vocational Skills

In ROTC, you will learn how to shoot and how to camp out in the woods, but you will learn so much more. In the basic course, you will learn rappelling, orienteering, and other military skills. In the advanced course, you will learn how to train others and other skills you will need as an Army Officer.

You will learn more than just skills that are suited to an Army career. You will get skills that are in high-demand in any business or organization. You will learn how to clearly communicate, how to organize and inspire people, how to work as a partner or a member of a team, and – very importantly – you will learn how to get a job done with excellence!

The Golden Knight Battalion regularly prepares Army ROTC cadets for excellence in their assessments and in their Army careers. Distinguished Military Graduates (top 10%) come from our battalion every year. We are truly one of the best ROTC battalions in the Northeast United States.

Would you like to more about ROTC Education opportunities? Contact us, or visit our Golden Knight Battalion website.