Bears and Saints 2013

The Golden Knight Battalion is made up of Cadets from all four of the schools in the North Country (ClarksonSt LawrenceSUNY Potsdam, and SUNY Canton). Each of the schools adds something special to the mix. Although they all bring unique qualities to the Battalion they all become part of the Battalion quickly. The mix was a good one again this year.  Of note was the fact that all three of the commissionees at SUNY Potsdam was a member of the National Guard or Army Reserves.

This was also the last year that Dr. Schwaller, the President at SUNY Potsdam will participate in our ceremony.  Each year he made it a point to mention that his first official duty when he arrived at SUNY Potsdam was to be part of an Army ROTC commissioning ceremony.  We wish him well as he leave SUNY Potsdam this summer.

Dr Schwaller

So without further adieu, our Commissionees for the Class of 2013 from St Lawrence and State University of New York at Potsdam.

Lieutenant Joel Diagostino

Lieutenant Diagostino is being commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He received a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics from State University of New York at Potsdam.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and will serve in the Army Reserves with the 366th MAC Engineer Company here in the North Country.  He also scored the first goal in the hockey game against Air Force this year.

Lieutenant Jacob O’Brien

Lieutenant O’Brien is being commissioned into the Quartermaster Corps.  He received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from State University of New York at Potsdam.  He will serve at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington this summer prior to attending the Quartermaster Officer basic course at Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty will be at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Lieutenant Robishaw

Lieutenant Robishaw is being commissioned into the Transportation Corps.  He received bachelor of arts degrees in criminal justice and sociology from State University of New York at Potsdam.  After graduation he will attend the Transportation Officer basic course in Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Campbell, Kentucky with the 101st Combat Support Command.

empey silver dollar

Lieutenant Sean Empey

Lieutenant Empey is being commissioned into the Chemical Corps.  He received a bachelor of arts degree from St Lawrencein history.  He will serve this summer at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington prior to attending the Chemical  Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be Fort Hood, Texas with the 1ST Cavalry Division.

We are now almost “Mission Complete” on the class of 2013. We do have three Cadets who are finishing up course work and plan to earn their degree and commission before the end of the semester.  These three will allow us to exceed our commission mission again this year.   Not bad for a small school from the real upstate New York.

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GKB 2012 Clarkson graduates

Here are the Cadets that will take their oath tomorrow and commission into the Army. The following day they will graduate from Clarkson University. A good group of Army Leaders.

Lieutenant Chris Coveleski

Lieutenant Coveleski is commissioned into the Transportation Corps. He will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Global Suppy Chain Management with a minor in Law Studies. He will attend the Transportation Officer Basic Course at Fort Eustis, Virginia. He will serve in the New York National Guard with the 42nd Infantry Division Intelligence and Sustainment Company.

Lieutenant Russell Austin

Lieutenant Austin is commissioned into the Infantry. He will graduate with distinction and receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He will serve at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington this summer prior to attending the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. His first duty assignment will be at Fort Campbell, Kentucky with the 101st Airborne Division.

Lieutenant Austin is also a distinguished military graduate signifying his high standing in the class and national order of merit list.

Lieutenant Matthew Edgette

Lieutenant Edgette is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. He will graduate with distinction and receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. He will attend the Engineer Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His first duty assignment will be at Heidleberg Germany with the 18th Engineer Brigade.

Lieutenant Michael Fensterer

Lieutenant Fensterer is commissioned into the Armor Branch. He will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Global Supply Chain Management. He will attend the Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. LT Fensterer also leaves Clarkson with a perfect 4-0 record as the goalie for the the Army team in our annual ice hockey game against Air Force.

Lieutenant Timothy Nevin

Lieutenant Nevin is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. He will receive a Bachelor of Science degrees in Innovation and Entrepreneurship with a minor in Project Management. He will serve at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington this summer prior to attending the Engineer Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He will serve in the Reserves with the 382nd Engineer Company, Sappers out of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Lieutenant Chris O’Connor

Lieutenant O’Connor is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. He will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. He will attend the Engineer Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His first duty assignment will be at Fort Carson, Colorado with the 4th Engineer Battalion.

Lieutenant David Pecka

Lieutenant Pecka 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 Reserves with the 479th Engineer Battalion out of Fort Drum, New York.

Lieutenant Joshua Risewick

Lieutenant Risewick is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers. He will receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. He will attend the Engineer Officer Basic Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. His first duty assignment will be at Fort Hood, Texas with the 36th Engineer Brigade.

Lieutenant Jonathon Waterman

Lieutenant Waterman is commissioned into Military Intelligence branch. He will receive a Bachelor of Professional Studies degree. He will attend the Military Intelligence Officer Basic Course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. He will serve in the Reserves with the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion in Mattydale, New York.

Lieutenant Jennifer Zanghi

Lieutenant Zanghi is commissioned into the Medical Service Corps. She will graduate with great distinction and receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. She will attend the Medical Services Officer Basic Course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas prior to attending flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama in order to train as a medevac pilot.

Lieutenant Zanghi is also recognized as a Distinguished Military Graduate signifying her high standing in the class and national order of merit list.

Congratulations to all the Golden Knights…stay tuned for our Commissionees from SUNY Potsdam and St Lawrence who will commission next week.

I’m in a Chinook

Recently the Basic Course Cadets from the Golden Knight Battalion took a little helicopter ride.  For the past few years Clarkson Army ROTC has been able to request New York Army Nation Guard helicopters to come support our training.

The excitement and anticipation always builds each year as the day gets near. We had to get ID tags for all the cadets to ride in the helicopters, and if a cadet thought that the information required to get the tags made wasn’t making it up the Cadet chain of command, there was almost panic, for fear of not getting the helicopter ride.

The day of the ride, approximately 30 minutes before the scheduled start of lab there was a rumble in the sky. The Cadet Battalion Commander posted on facebook.

Charles Rugg -That sounds like a CH-47 Flying Over man the MS I and II’s are going to have fun

Even our friend, Pat, from Main Street Barbers in Potsdam (where all the cadets get their hair cut) noticed

Pat Austin – nothing better than hearing that noise go by the barbershop on a clear day

 

The Chinook helicopters landed at Damon Field, the airport in Potsdam, NY. the cadets were organized into groups to board the two aircraft by the Senior Cadets. The Cadet in charge, Cdt/Major Phil Ables is actually a member of the National Guard unit as an SMP cadet, and this exercise gave him a good opportunity to work with his assigned unit. He plans to go to flight school after graduation, and hopefully return one day for airlab as the pilot.

The Cadets received a safety brief from the crews prior to boarding the aircraft and half of them loaded the aircraft for the first flight.

As the engines started to turn all the cameras and camera phones came out. This is probably the most documented lab we have ever had. The number of posted pictures and videos were amazing.

Not to be scooped I got busy on my smartphone.



The cadets that participated in the lab all had big smiles on their faces, and great stories to tell all their friends when they got back to campus. Thanks to Cadet/Major Ables for coordinating, and the NYARNG for supporting a great day of Army Training.

You can also read more about the adventure on Cadet/SGT Matt Flynn’s Army Stories Blog. He has video of Potsdam from the Air.

SMP another option

The Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP) is a program that allows Reserve and National Guard soldiers to be enrolled in ROTC, take advantage of certain benefits, and pursue a commission.   It has some benefits and some drawbacks, and I’ll do my best to spell out each.  This is a program that students who aren’t strong scholarship candidates should consider to help pay for college.

Take a look at this video.  It is very cursory, and focuses on National Guard.  Remember that you can also SMP in the Reserves, and know that you can start on the path to SMP as early as freshman year.

Lets start off by saying that a student interested in SMP will have to talk to a recruiter, enlist in the Guard or Reserves, and may have to attend Basic Training and AIT.  You don’t necessarily have to do this right off the bat.  You could start taking ROTC classes and then look into the SMP program.  This option could allow you to forgo basic training.

Technically you aren’t an SMP cadet until you have contracted in ROTC, which is another reason I suggest starting in ROTC before enlisting.  Since a cadet can’t contract until sophomore year, unless they are on scholarship, a freshman cadet will be in somewhat of a grey area.  Students can try to enlist as an officer cadidate (MOS O9r), or they can enlist for any MOS they are qualified for.  If they chose to enlist O9r they will have to have a letter of acceptance from an ROTC Battalion, and they may have some difficulty getting GI bill benefits while a cadet, because technically there is no AIT for their MOS (ROTC is the advance training), so they will never be MOS qualified until they commission.

Once a cadet is in the SMP program they are required to join a Guard or Reserve unit and drill regularly.  This means they will be giving up one weekend a month to go train with their unit.  If they are lucky they will be a member of a unit that is easy to travel to.  In our case we have a unit in the next town over (Canton), and we are 1 hour north of Fort Drum, which is home to a number of units.  Some would argue that drilling and attending AIT will make a future officer better, because they have experienced what the soldiers they will lead have experienced.  I totally disagree with this theory, and the topic will be the subject of a future blog.

Here is the biggest concern and possible draw back to this option.   Although an SMP cadet is not deployable, again a cadet is not officially SMP until they contract.  An enlisted freshman may be told that they must deploy with their unit.  Currently my understanding is that they are usually not required to deploy, but again this can be a gray area.  Additionally, often my prospects are convinced to forgo a semester to attend Basic and AIT (the recruiter gets his credit) which often puts the future cadet out of synch and a semester behind which often results in December graduation.  Without going into a lot of detail this creates problems.  It is far better to start school as planned and if there is still a burning desire to attend Basic, it can be done between Freshman and Sophomore year.

One last consideration is that if you are competing for a 4 year scholarship, and accept it, you cannot participate in the SMP program your first year, and must leave the guard or reserves.  If you are a scholarship winner and you do desire the SMP program, starting in your sophomore year, you can convert your scholarship to a Guaranteed Reserve Forces  Duty (GRFD) scholarship.  At that time you must begin drilling, and you will be prohibited from assessing onto Active Duty.  Non scholarship SMP cadets can still go Active Duty when they graduate.

The bottom line is make sure that if you are considering the SMP program that you get your information from an enrollment officer, and carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks.

New York National Guard SMP site

This link is a good starting point for info.  One reason it took so long for me to tackle this post is that it’s a little difficult to explain SMP in a simple, concise way.  If you google ROTC SMP you will find a ton of discussion board threads covering all the variations of the SMP program, with a ton of misleading and partially incorrect information.  I can’t emphasize enough that you talk to an enrollment officer at an ROTC battalion to get the most accurate information about the program.

Big plans for the Summer

One question I always get about Army ROTC is what do you do during the Summer, is there a Summer training requirement? The only Summer requirement is to attend the Leadership Development and Assessment Camp (LDAC), typically between your Junior and Senior year. This year the GKB plans to send 19 cadets to Fort Lewis, Washington for the camp. This camp is essentially the “final exam” for the ROTC program. But, along with this requirement there are many opportunities to take part in Army training and professional development opportunities. There are opportunities for adventure training like Airborne, Air Assault, and mountain warfare school. Golden Knight Battalion cadets will be learning how to jump out of Airplanes, work with Army Helicopters, and conduct military operations in mountainous terain.

This year the Army continues to emphasize cultural awareness, so some of the GKB cadets will be taking advantage of the Cadet Command’s Cultural Immersion Program. After sending a cadet to Vietnam two years ago, and a cadet and our PMS visiting Argentina last year this year cadets will spend time in Tanzania, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. Finally, we have Juniors who will participate in CTLT opportunities. In conjuction with LDAC, these cadets will spend time with active units experiencing first hand what junior Officers do on a daily basis. Finally, many of our SMP cadets will be participating in Annual Training (AT) with their National Guard or Reserve units. The cadre who aren’t departing this summer will be supporting LDAC, and I’ll be recruiting and preparing the incoming class to contract. So, I hope you have some big plans for this coming summer, we certainly do!

Get to the Choppa!!!

The freshmen and sophomores of the GKB will be taking to the air this afternoon for their Army ROTC lab. Blackhawks from the New York National Guard will be visiting Potsdam, and the Cadets will be getting the opportunity to ride in a helicopter. There’s a future blog in my head entitled “crazy stuff I’ve done in the Army”, and riding in military helicopters is definitely on the “crazy stuff” list.

GKB cadets getting ready to fly