The waiting is the hardest part

Every year I get two or three incoming freshmen who contact me, saying they are interested in the program and asking questions about the commitment.  Invariably I get an email like this one I got about a week ago.

after a couple days of thinking I am going to put this on hold. After talking with my parents they said I should focus on my school work first for the first semester and If I can add more after to do so. I appreciate you getting back to me and this is something that I’m not putting aside. I read somewhere that the latest you can join is sophomore year. After the first semester I will re-evaluate and see what I can do. Thank You.

I’m not a high pressure salesman. Army ROTC is not for everyone. I usually let the prospect know we’ll be here if they change their mind, and that it’s never too late, but I think it’s time I push back a little on the idea of waiting.

A cautionary tale

The reason I’m going to push back is because of this year’s graduating class.  One of the top Cadets in the the class waited.  He had  an injury he thought would hinder his participation…despite me telling him otherwise.  He waited until the spring semester to contact me again and enroll in the class.  He was interested in one of our scholarships, and once he enrolled it became apparent he was what we were looking for.  Problem was he was a semester behind his peers and he had already missed one scholarship board.  When he finally came to a campus based scholarship board, we were pretty full on scholarships and he finally had to settle for a non scholarship contract when no more money was allocated to his year group.  Because we held out for a scholarship as long as possible he wasn’t contracted until the fall of his junior year, which means he missed out on any optional training opportunities during those years that requires a Cadet be contracted to attend.  Because of that he wasn’t as competitive during the branching process, and although he had his heart set on Infantry branch, he was assigned to the Ordinance Corps.  He will be a great Officer and will have a successful career, but waiting to give Army ROTC a try cost him.

It can’t hurt to try

There is no obligation to try Army ROTC as a freshman.  If you do find out that it takes too much of your time, or if it’s not the right fit, all you have to do is drop the course.  At Clarkson you can drop the course  just about any time during the semester with no penalty.  I would rather have a freshman try the course and drop it after a couple weeks than to have him or her contact me at the beginning of their junior year when it’s usually too late to try to get them on board.

Help, not hinder

Army ROTC is usually a support system you wouldn’t otherwise have.  We operate much like the athletic coaches, monitoring the grades and academic performance of our Cadets.  We emphasize taking advantage of student services and we expect our Cadets (especially our Cadets in the engineering programs) to take advantage of tutors.  We assign each Cadet a mentor.  That mentor is an upperclassmen, usually in the same or a similar major who can help guide the Cadet through the challenges of being a Cadet and student.  Academic success is going to be your number one priority while you are at school and we are going to remind you of that

Cadets studying together

Cadets studying together in the ERC at Clarkson.  When I want to find some Cadets I always know there will be a groups of them in the ERC.

We don’t ask for a lot of time

As a freshman in the Golden Knight Battalion we are going to ask for 6-7 hours a week from you.  An hour of class, two hours of lab, and PT Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  We are going to give you the opportunity to participate more, but if you have other priorities that is fine.  We usually have 10-15 varsity athletes in the program that are balancing school, a sport or sports, and ROTC and most of them do just fine.  We have fraternity and sorority members who are active in Greek life, we have Cadets in student government, and Cadets who work part time.  If you weren’t giving us 6-7 hours a week, those hours would be filled with something else, probably not academically related. Since PT is not mandatory for non contracted Cadets, if you are having trouble managing your time, not attending some PT sessions is an options.  As long as you are working with us, we will help you figure it out.

So, I fully understand incoming student’s (and their parent’s) concerns, but from now on I’m going to share this blog post when I get an email like the one I got last week. Nothing frustrates me more than trying to figure out how to help the latecomers get caught up, and be competitive for what they want.  Hopefully it will convince one or two it’s better to give it a try up front.




Mark Rosenthal, GKB alumni, class of ’78 has shared his thoughts with me in the past, and a couple weeks ago (22 August to be exact) he contacted me again with some thoughts about history, tradition, and being Airborne.  As  a basic training XO I taught the history and tradition class to new soldiers. I can certainly relate to what he had to say. I value Army history and  tradition and think it is what makes being a soldier so special.  I have also worked  in the civilian world for a company (US Steel) with a proud history that made working in the mill special. Being part of something bigger than yourself has value.

40 years ago *this month* I was experiencing my first exposure to the “real Army” attending Jump School between my Sophomore and Junior years at Clarkson.

I returned to school with “the haircut” and shiny new jump wings.

Right now I am cruising at Flight Level 380 over Montana on my way home from a consulting gig.

Under the seat in front of me is my computer bag. Proudly displayed on it is the “AA” “Airborne” patch that I wore on my sleeve in 1980-82.

During my time on active duty, I wore a lot of patches on my left sleeve.
The Artillery School
2nd Infantry Division
82nd Airborne Division
XVIII Airborne Corps
3rd Armored Division

but it’s the 82nd patch that I display today. But had I not attended jump school at a Clarkson cadet, I likely would have taken a different path.

It’s not about “jumping out of airplanes.” (Key point: There are *no* “perfectly good airplanes” in the Air Force). Rather, it was / is about being a part of something bigger – a tradition that extends back to 1940, and to 1944. When I was in the division, our CG, MG Malloy pointed out that nobody says “Boy, I wish we were as good as the 4th Mech.”

In some previous email, I sent a photo of my wings under a Clarkson unit crest on a black background. Those pins are on my Clarkson Ranger beret. Those wings are the ones I got at graduation, and are engraved “Aug 27, 1976” on the back – the day I got them. I carried that beret in my cargo pocket on my first jump with the 82nd as well, because, well, I wanted to connect my Clarkson Ranger experience with that one.

So… “Congratulations” to any cadets who have pinned on new jump wings over the summer. My message is this – those three weeks can change your life in subtle ways you don’t realize. Those wings aren’t a merit badge. They are a tradition.

PS – Our pilot for the flight out of BWI was also waiting for the plane this afternoon. I noticed his tie tack was a small jump wings pin. I approached him and said I liked his tie tack, and pointed to the patch on my bag. He had attended jump school as an Air Force cadet in 1979. He went on to be a transport pilot, and now flies Airbus A320’s for Delta. He never went on jump status, yet all of these years later, THAT is what he wears as a tie tack. Pretty cool.

“All The Way!”

This Summer 9 Cadets completed Air Assault training and one Cadet attended Airborne school and earned jump wings.  Clarkson Army ROTC continues the tradition of Cadets taking on the challenges offered over the summer.


How and where to start

When I started this blog 6 years ago (holy crap! 6 years ago!) some of the first posts were about how to start the scholarship process and how to get started in Army ROTC.  Time to bump that info back to the top of the blog and freshen it up a little. The optimal target audience for this information is a high school junior finishing up their junior year.  That student is considering college and has a desire to serve in the military. If you aren’t a high school junior and are interested we should still talk, there are plenty of ways to become an Army Officer. Here’s what I think my optimal audience should do.

Step one – do your research

Visit …poke around on the site.  Understand that Army ROTC is a program that trains college students to serve as Army Officers when they graduate from college. Look at the requirements.  Don’t be afraid to contact an Army ROTC Battalion and talk to an Enrollment Officer if you have questions.

Along with researching ROTC opportunities you’ll also need to figure out where you want to attend college and what you want to study.  You won’t be majoring in Army ROTC.  The internet is a great source of material.  You can use a search engine to develop a list of schools that offer what you want.  Most University websites will give you a good idea what they offer.  You can also usually find information about Army ROTC battalions too.  In our case we have a wealth of information on the Clarkson University website, and on social media platforms like facebook and instagram.

Step two – apply for the scholarship

Watch this video first.

If you follow the link to you will find a link to the four-year High School Scholarships and on that page you can start your application.  It is first going to ask you to create a account.  It is very important that once you create this account you return to the ROTC page and log in here.  I publish the various dates for the scholarship process once they are released each year.  Typically the window to apply opens in June before a high school students senior year.  The first board meets in October and the deadline to start the process is in early January.  Watch this blog for the dates.

A WORD OF CAUTION…If you are on the site you will see an apply online button. That is not the button for applying to Army ROTC.  That button takes you to the Army Career Explorer (ACE) which is focused on enlisted options for the most part.

Step three – keep in touch/start a dialogue

As you go through the process make sure you are letting people know you are interested in their program.  Whether it is a school or an Army ROTC battalion, we want to hear from you, and we will keep track of our conversations.  In my case I contact interested applicants often and track all correspondences.  Clarkson also does the same and I can cross reference their system and mine to see if an applicant is showing interest. If I hear from you often then you will get my help.  If you don’t respond to my emails I’m guessing you plan to attend another school.

You have to make sure you are providing good contact information.  If you provide an email address make sure it’s one you check often.  With the advent of mobile devices it should take days to respond to an email.

I also suggest that scanning and emailing is the best way to respond to requests for forms or documents.  On the application website you can scan and upload documents.  There is no reason why someone would put something in an envelope and mail it or fax a document these days.  Scan and upload when possible.

I also recommend you plan some campus visits once you narrow your list.  If you visit a college ask about meeting with someone from the ROTC program.  In my case, I encourage visitors to schedule their visit through the Admissions office, and ask to meet with Army ROTC.  Admissions does the rest.

Step four – Don’t give up

If you go through the high school process and don’t get an offer you can still attend college, enroll in Army ROTC class, and become an Army Officer.  You may have the opportunity to earn a campus based scholarship or take advantage of another program like the Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP).  Not every Cadet is on scholarship.



2013 Summer Camps

If you have Cadets attending Summer training here are some good resources to keep tabs on what they are up to.

Cadets going to LDAC

The official LDAC Blog

Photos of LDAC

LDAC on Facebook 

LDAC on Twitter 

They are even livestreaming LDAC here

Here’s the mailing address if you want to send you Cadet a letter or care package

Cadet Lastname, Firstname
Warrior Forge xPLT, xCo, xRegt
PO Box 339543, JBLM, WA 98433

Here is some information if you want to see your Cadet graduate from Warrior Forge

Cadets at LTC

Here is the LTC blog

LTC on Twitter

LTC on Facebook

Here’s a link to the information you need if you have a Cadet at Fort Knox.

They also will be live streaming some of the events.

We’ll all be watching how the Cadets are doing at camp this Summer.  Best of luck to all the GKB Cadets!!

GKB commissioning 2013

We held our commissioning ceremony at Clarkson University on 11 May this year.  We commissioned 10 Cadets, and we had commissioned 2LT Nicky Lea in December which made a total of 11 Clarkson Lieutenants to date for the year group.

Thanks to our guest speaker Major General Robert Stall

Clarkson commissioning 2013

Here are the new Lieutenants

Lieutenant Dylan Bach 

Lieutenant Bach is commissioned into the Transportation Corps.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering.  He will attend the Transportation Officer basic course at Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Drum, New York.

Lieutenant Gregory Christian

Lieutenant Christian is commissioned into the Military Police Corps.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in global supply chain management and a minor in project management.  He will work at this summer at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis,  Washington prior to attending the Military Police Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be in Sembach Germany.

Lieutenant Matthew Coryea

Lieutenant Coryea is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with the 366th Combat Engineer Battalion.

Lieutenant Ian Lamos

Lieutenant Lamos is commissioned into the Military Intelligence branch.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics.  He will attend the Military Intelligence  Officer basic course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Drum, New York with the Tenth Mountain Division.

Lieutenant Patrick McPartland

Lieutenant McPartland is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  He will serve in the Army Reserves with the 305th Engineer Detachment at Fort Wadsworth, New York.

Lieutenant Nick Olszewski

Lieutenant Olszewski is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in engineering and management.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Riley, Kansas with the First Infantry Division.

Lieutenant Olszewski will also receive a certificate recognizing him as a Distinguished Military Graduate signifying his high standing in the class and national order of merit list.

Lieutenant Steve Strait

Lieutenant Strait is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in civil engineering.  He will attend the Engineer officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 20th Engineer Brigade.

Lieutenant Joshua Addington

Lieutenant Addington is commissioned into the Ordinance Corps.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in history.  He will attend the Ordinance  Officer basic course at Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with the  1107th Mobile Support out of Fort Eustis, Virginia.

Lieutenant Andrew Christian

Lieutenant Christian is commissioned into the Military Police Corps.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in psychology.  He will attend the Military Police officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with the 382nd Military Police Battalion.

Lieutenant Lampert

Lieutenant Lampert is commissioned into the Military Intelligence branch.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in aeronautical and mechanical engineering.  He will attend the Military Intelligence officer basic course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with A Company, 325th Military Intelligence Battalion out of Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

Quick look at the first board

Just some quick initial analysis regarding the first scholarship board.  Keep in mind that I am out here on the frontiers of freedom and don’t have all the data.  My analysis is based on what I can glean from the Cadet Command Information Management System (CCIMS).

alt offer – 11

Offer – 202

eligible -7

interviewee – 5748

ineligible – 948

Here is what I count.

The first thing I’m assuming is that there are 213 applicants that will soon receive an offer letter.  That is not a lot.

I don’t know what constitutes eligible vs. interviewee, but my assumption is that this pool of 5755 applicants are somewhere between completing the online application and having all their information in so that their file is board ready.  You will be in an interviewee status until you are offered a scholarship, so make sure you check to see that your interview is posted and then don’t sweat the fact that your status still lists you as eligible for the interview.  I know that doesn’t sound logical, but some of this process won’t make a lot of sense.

My final assumption is that the 948 ineligibles have something in their app that precludes them from competing.  Things such as low SAT, low high school GPA, or age may disqualify them.

So what does all this mean?  Very little in my opinion.  You can’t control how many scholarships are given.  You can’t control how you compare against other applicants who are competing for the same allocations.  The only thing you can control is how quickly you apply, how quickly you complete your file, and the quality of your application and interview performance.  I would remind you that to become an Army Officer you will make some sacrifices, in time, money, and effort.  How bad do you want it?

The Commissioning Ceremony

This year was a special year for commissioning ceremonies here in the North Country. Actually, every year is special, but the number of family members that played a special role, the number of departed cadets and cadre that returned, and the sheer number of cadets commissioned all made this year memorable. Here are just a couple of the highlights for me.

William Snyder

Bill Snyder receives his bars from a couple Marines
A little over four years ago I journeyed down to Lowville to give one of my four year scholarship winners his PT test. We set up a time to meet at the Lewis County Fairgrounds in Lowville, which had a track adequate for the 2 mile run. I arrived and met Bill’s father, a retired Marine Corps Major, and his younger brother, Joe, who was an athlete and in my eyes, a prospect. Flash forward to commissioning day and Bill’s father administering the oath, Bill’s father and his brother putting on his bars, and then Bill receiving his silver dollar salute from his brother who is now an enlisted Marine.

Green to Gold at Potsdam

LT Garza receives his bar from his daughter
The Kiser family putting the bars on Dad
LT Sauders receivs his bars

At Potsdam this year we saw the fruits of our Fort Drum Green to Gold office’s labor. Four Green to Gold Cadets and one Cadet who was a Green to Gold prospect finished their studies and commissioned. All four of the Green to Gold Cadets had children who helped pin their bars on. All the Commissioning Cadets at the ceremony had someone special swear them in, and Col Peterson was a terrific guest speaker, who swore Cadet Vasquez in, just as he did two years previously, when he reenlisted into the ROTC program.


This year we had five Distinguished Military Graduates (DMG). A DMG is defined as:

An ROTC graduate who has maintained a distinguished military student status throughout MSL IV and is in the top 20% of the National Accessions order of merit list (OML).

LTs Austin, Zanghi, Garza, Lambert, and Wilsey received DMG recognition this year. Those in the know (Dilys and Shirley) claim this is the most in recent memory. Of course this was a bigger commissioning class than usual, but our number of DMGs was still an accomplishment.

Dilys silver dollar salutes

A handful of Cadets this year chose to ask Mrs. Dilys Heinssen, our Human Resource Administrator (HRA) to be part of their Silver Dollar Salute. She is a retired Reserve Non-commissioned Officer, and over the years has played an instrumental role in processing all the paperwork involved with their ROTC career from contracting and enrolling to commissioning. It was nice to see her have the honor this year of a handful of first salutes.

Cummings Mother/Swartz Grandmother

As the father of two daughters and someone who has a lot of respect for strong women in the military this year was very special. Among the former Officers who played a role in the festivities at St Lawrence were two female veterans. LT Cummings was sworn in by her mother, Candyce who is a retired Army Major, and LT Swartz had one of his bars placed on his uniform by his grandmother, Mary Mills, who served in World War Two as a captain.