An Air Force ROTC experience

March 11, 2015

By Josh Sinclair

It’s 6 a.m. when I wake up. My roommate is still asleep. I climb out of my bed and change into my gray T-shirt, noting the logo on the back. I put on my shorts and sneak out without making a sound. I walk to the Williams Center, still wiping the sleep out of my eyes, preparing for the start of my day.

Most of my days begin at 6:30 a.m. with Physical Training which consists of one to three miles of running, 50 to 100 push-ups, 50 to 100 sit-ups and other exercises that test our bodies. At about 7:30 a.m. we finish and the rest of the day is very much like a normal student.

Being committed to our armed forces takes an exceptional amount of will, determination and pride. Being a part of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps has taught me many lessons that are invaluable to success throughout life.

In the Air Force, there are many statements we base our lives around, but Article 6 of our Code of Conduct is one that has always resonated with me.

“I will never forget I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions and dedicated to the principals which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in United States of America.”

It reminds me of why we are doing this, why it is so meticulous, so intense, but also why it will all be worth it.

As cadets, our lives are much the same as a regular student’s, with a few day-to-day differences, however, the main goal of college is a stark contrast.

Members of the ROTC have the same goal, to become Air Force Officers, whereas in college there are thousands of different post college goals. It’s what separates us, we are united by one common goal.

The average day in the life of an ROTC cadet isn’t very different from the typical Whitewater student’s day. We have 12 to 18 credits, we have papers and tests, we join student organizations; the school day is the same, it’s the outside of school part of our days that is different.

The only day of the week we don’t have Physical Training is Tuesday. We drive over to UW-Madison by 6:30 a.m. meaning we leave Whitewater around 5 a.m. When we are there, we attend a two-hour training session called Leadership Laboratory.

Leadership Laboratory is the main tool for us cadets to learn the skills we need for active duty. This is the place we learn all about what we need to know for life as an Air Force Officer.

We learn a lot of different skills including marching, first-aid care, dorm maintenance, military customs and courtesies, Air Force history and leadership skills. We learn in an intense environment to perform under pressure and remain calm in uncomfortable situations.

We also take classes where we learn the intricacies of Air Force life. For example, what is on a military base, where the bases are, how to communicate, how to follow chain of command and how to lead large groups.

The time spent practicing leading and followership are valuable skills for all walks of life, which is why they are stressed to us so much.

After Leadership Laboratory on Tuesdays, we are required to wear our “Uniform of the Day” for the remainder of that day. The uniforms can range from a long-sleeve blue shirt with a tie and a jacket to our camo Airman Battle Uniforms.

Another separation between being in ROTC and being a regular student is the appearance standards that we must maintain. Some of these regulations consist of being clean shaven, hair must be kept short and tidy and no changing of hair color. These rules are made to help with maintaining good order and discipline throughout all of the cadets.

Being in ROTC is a life changing experience for me because I have learned so much about myself and how I can lead others and be comfortable. Doing it takes work but in the end, the principles we believe in and goals we want to accomplish make it all worth it.

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