South Army ROTC Cadets Rank Top in Nation at Summer Training
Posted on September 13, 2022 by Hadyn Henderson
The University of South Alabama’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, housed in the Department of Military Science, has been part of the College of Arts and Sciences for more than 40 years. It may be small for now, but its most recent achievements are very grand.
This past summer, sixteen Army ROTC cadets from South demonstrated the importance of leadership, companionship and dedication. The cadets, composed of junior and senior year students, took part in a summer training program in Fort Knox, Kentucky, along with around 7,000 cadets from 273 other ROTC programs throughout the nation.
Two notable cadets, Annie Mears, a geography major from Gunnison, Colorado, and Clay Cashman, a mechanical engineering major from Tacoma, Washington, completed the summer training program with the highest rating possible, both finishing the program within the top five percent of the nation.
“I am very thankful for the many ways Army ROTC has improved both my professional and personal life,” Mears said. “It has helped develop me into a better and more intrinsically motivated person. I would not be where I am without the mentorship I have received from both cadre and cadets within the program.”
One of the most important factors for this accomplishment is peer rankings. In addition to having excelled in the program evaluations, these cadets displayed incredible leadership qualities to their fellow cadets. As a result, Mears and Cashman have set the standard for future South cadets to attend Cadet Summer Training.
Lieutenant Colonel Jared Sunsdahl, department chair and professor of Military Science, described the cadets as a family.
“We have people taking care of each other and pushing each other to be better. Like a family,” he said.
The cadets underwent several notable experiences, including internships, study abroad programs and airborne operations out of military aircraft. Four cadets strengthened their leadership skills firsthand in the real Army as they shadowed platoon leaders in various military installations, such as Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Stewart, Georgia; and West Point, New York.
Karl Whiting, a criminal justice major from Mobile, Alabama, became airborne qualified at Fort Benning, Georgia, after competing for and winning the only open slot available for the South ROTC program.
Christian Peterman, an English major from Ozark, Alabama, spent 37 days training at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
The United States is not the only country lucky enough to have encountered South’s impressive Army ROTC cadets. One cadet, Ethan Flowers, studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after the summer training program.
Each of these noteworthy cadets seized the opportunity to gain remarkable experiences in different parts of the world.
Sunsdahl encourages any interested students at the University of South Alabama to consider the opportunities that are available within the Army ROTC program.
“It’s another opportunity for leadership, whether you’re going to become an investment banker or you’re going to become a journalist,” he said. “There are so many opportunities here.”