Howard University

My Airborne Adventure

This past summer I was given the opportunity to go to the United States Army Basic Airborne Course, or Airborne School for short. Leading up to my trip to Fort Benning, Georgia, I trained my mind and body for the challenge that awaited me. I first asked my father for advice since he also went to the school around my age. He gave me encouraging words and great advice. I ran four to eight miles every day that summer leading up to my departure to get in perfect shape.As I boarded the plane that would take me to Fort Benning, I had a surreal feeling knowing that the next time I was in a plane I would be jumping out of it.

Once I arrived at Ft. Benning I realized I was the first cadet to arrive to the school. As other cadets began to arrive, I searched for a familiar face and found only one. Finally the rest of our class began to report to the Charlie Company building and I saw just how small the cadet population was compared to the rest of the students in the school. There was a mixed population of students, including: enlisted soldiers, noncommissioned officers, and commissioned officers. All were there to take the course and earn their wings. There were also members from every branch of the United States military as well as some military personnel from other countries.

The first few days we had to fill out all of the required paperwork and get processed.Our cadet liaison, MSG Strait, told all the cadets that out of all the Army ROTC programs there were only 550 airborne slots given; therefore, if we were given this chance we should make the most of it.The first event we had to complete was the APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test). I was so nervous about passing the test, but I ended up running the fastest time I’ve ever done on a 2 mile run. Once that was complete, ground week training began and we started going through the basics of a PLF. We drilled it repeatedly till we all got it right. As soon as we had the basics down, we put them to the test as we held on to a zip line until we were told to let go and land using the PLF. Then we learned the single exit method from the 34 foot tower. We also learned how to put on our harness that week.

Tower week was similar to ground week as in we still did PT in the morning or a distance run and we still ran to all training unless the heat became to severe. We were tested on our PLFs with the swing landing trainer, or as my father calls it, the slam dunk trainer. We also learned the mass exit from a plane in teams of 4. We had to drill all of these skills repeatedly until we got them right.

After two weeks of training, jump week finally came and I was ready to jump out of a plane while in flight. We waited for the sky to clear and once it did it was time to put all my training to the test. I boarded the C-130 named Kentucky. Once I felt the plane begin to take off I realized what I was about to do and I started thinking of things I never had thought before. I saw the doors open and understood why the 1SG advised us not to do that. I instantly became nervous at that sight. I heard the wind flying past us as we soared though the air. We went through all of our pre jump safety checks while my hands shook through all of them. As I saw the first man jump I became calm and my training seemed to take over. I shuffled to the door, handed off my line, turned through the door and jumped.Four jumps later I became airborne and left Fort Benning with a new accomplishment and passion for the Army.

- CDT Dante Jones

Operation: BOLD LEADER

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Leadership Training Course (LTC), as known as “Operation: Bold Leader” is the first step for many cadets in their path to become commissioned officers and warrior leaders in the United States Army. LTC is an intense four-week introductory course to get cadets that have missed their freshman or sophomore year of ROTC properly acclimated from civilian to Army life. Upon completion of the course, cadets can choose to finish their ROTC program at their university or decide to do something else. LTC takes place every summer at Fort Knox. The four weeks of LTC are mentally grueling and physically taxing but the reward of graduation, making life-long friends and meeting ROTC standards makes it all worth it.

Four weeks, four phases. That’s sums up LTC in a nutshell. First phase is the Solider First Phase, in which cadets arrive and are immediately immersed in the ways of the Army. They are introduced to collective Physical Training (PT) and Drill and Ceremony (D&C), which also includes military customs and courtesies. Cadets also work on team building while at the Field Leadership Reaction Course (FLRC). The next phase is the Warrior Leader Phase in which the cadets are introduced to the adventure side of the Army. Cadets learn personal courage as they overcome fears in Combat Water Survival Training (CWST), rappelling, land navigation, and basic rifle marksmanship (BRM). The third phase is the Bold Leader phase in which the cadets take part in physically and mentally demanding field exercises that also build up leadership skills and confidence. Cadets learn how to maneuver on the Assault Course, lead squads in Squad Situational Training Exercises (STX) and utilize explosive projectiles. The last phase is the Future Leader Phase, in which cadets are now one step closer to being the Warrior Leaders that any solider would want to follow on the battlefield. In this phase, cadets complete a 6.2 mile ruck march to show the endurance and mental fortitude that LTC has instilled in them. Cadets get their final sense of accomplishment during Family Day and Graduation, and then depart from Fort Knox to return home.

LTC is a crash course into the Army that any aspiring commissioned officer should want to attend. It has been called, “Basic Training for Cadets”.LTC is one of the best courses that Cadet Command has to offer, especially since it helps you get ready to attend Operation: Warrior Forge, where cadets get assessed.

- CDT Tiara Marshall