Preparing For Military Service: Inside ROTC


We move now from the military past to the military present or future, I guess you could say. The college seniors we'll meet next aren't in the trenches just yet but they've all dedicated themselves to serving in the military after they graduate. They're cadets in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp or ROTC. They're part of detachment 130 which is hosted by Howard University and brings together cadets from eight different schools around the District. Lauren Landau caught up with the cadets during one of their early morning workouts to find out how ROTC service in the nation's capital is a distinctively D.C. experience.


We're in college, who decides in college that, OK, I'm going to wake up super early so I can get trained in a military environment so I can go and defend my country. Who decides that? I mean, it's a really huge sacrifice and we're deciding it early. I decided I wanted to join ROTC my summer before my freshman year. At the time I thought it was a good way to get school paid for. But now it's much more than that. And I also joined it because my father is prior military as well. So it kind of runs in the family. I really like the fact that we traveled a lot while he was in. So I kind of want the same opportunity.


My grandfather was in the military and he was just such a magnanimous figure in my life that I knew if I wanted to be half the man he was, I had to some sort of commonality with him.


If we didn't have other cadets here, I probably wouldn’t know anybody else from any other schools. We have everyone here. You know, I know people at George Washington, I know people at American, I know people that Catholic. Like, we're never alone no matter where we go because we have all types of schools coming in.


We've been able to give tours to World War II veterans. We've been able to see generals speak. We've been able to take tours at the Pentagon. We've seen an F-16 refueled by a KC-17. There are just tremendous opportunities. I don’t think that a lot of other areas have to offer.


It's really cool to have people that have obtained this amount of respect and this rank. (word?) speech was about their experiences and give us their career advice because whether you're looking at making the Air Force a career or not, the advice of a general is pretty applicable to any other facet of civilian life. So that's always really a fantastic that we have access to those people and their vast wealthy of knowledge. A lot of the veterans events just stand out in my mind. Some of the cooler things I've gotten to do in college.


We guided World War II veterans around as part of the Emerald Coast Honor Flight which is an organization that flies World War II veterans up from Florida that have not seen the monuments before. So we gathered them around the memorials and monuments for their first time. And that was just an amazing experience. I learned a great deal.


Just about every semester, at some point, we'll have PT over at the monuments instead of over here. We'll do a lap around, sing Jody's and it's one of the biggest round boosting events that you can ever have because you're just surrounded by all these people greater then yourself and you're surrounded by all of your friends and all of your comrades. It's just a tremendous experience.


When you first go to college, you don't really have anything to hold yourself to. You're family is all back home, your friends are back home. But when you're wearing your uniform or where you're wearing anything that says Air Force on it, you have to remember that you're representing something bigger then yourself.


You can see photos of the cadets and learn about detachment 130's upcoming open house for perspective cadets on our website


Time now for a quick break. But when we get back, we go in the trenches with the guys who make our urban landscape a little more green.


It's hard getting those trees established that first year, they have a really, really, really rough life. It is the most difficult place for a tree to grow, is in an urban streetscape.


That and more coming up on "Metro Connection," here on WAMU 88.5.
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