FORT KNOX, Ky. (Sept. 28, 2017) — The future leaders of ROTC are expected to live all of the Army values. Recently, the values of Personal Courage, Duty, and Selfless Service were tested by cadets and cadre members as they were activated to take part in hurricane relief efforts.
More than 200 cadets in the Simultaneous Membership Program and ROTC cadre from various programs were activated to support relief efforts for both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Missions ranged from search and rescue operations evacuating numerous families to providing humanitarian aid to the families forced into shelters by damaging winds and flood waters.
University of West Florida Cadet Isaac Kimbrell activated with the 53rd Brigade Support Battalion, Chipley, Florida, which distributed supplies to those hit by the hurricane.
“It was very humbling, but also very educational. I was both amazed and disappointed by what people can do when they’re desperate,” he said. “The way that people worked together despite language, culture, or race barriers was amazing.”
“I learned a lot about expectations versus reality. I also learned a lot about the differences between Soldiers. These lessons will forever remain with me,” Kimbrell added. “I was there with the enlisted Soldiers throughout this while process, and I will remember what we needed, what was too much, and what was effective. It was very enlightening to see leadership from the point of view of a subordinate.”
Cadet David Pavelsky Jr. was one of 17 Texas A&M cadets who took part in relief efforts. He assisted in securing humanitarian aid and shelter operations established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Houston. He said he was glad, yet humbled, to help his fellow Texans.
“I was really excited to help in Houston. Seeing the devastation that took place and the look on the faces that had lost everything – I was really glad I could do my part,” Pavelsky said.
Cadet Michael Elder, University of West Florida, activated with the 870th Engineer Company (SAPPER) from Crestview, Florida.
He assisted with relief efforts in Tallahassee, Florida, by working with the Red Cross to help manage multiple shelters for people affected by the storm. His unit also helped in route clearance operations in Tallahassee.
“It made me feel good to be a part of such an effort because it is nice to be out there helping people in need,” he said. “I feel my experience with the storm relief efforts will help better me as a leader in the future because I received some great experience with helping people in the field.”
Cadet Christian Hernandez, another Texas A&M cadet, welcomed evacuees from the Texas gulf coast at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, which was home to about 2,650 evacuees.
“We were the first ones that many of the evacuees saw after the shock of Hurricane Harvey,” Hernandez said. “Even though we had long hours and sleepless nights, I was really happy to help and made sure that we warmly welcomed them with a smile.”
Not all cadet efforts took place in the hurricane damaged areas of the country. Many ROTC and junior ROTC programs also organized events to collect supplies to send to those in need.
Maj. Gen. Christopher Hughes, commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, Kentucky, said providing aid in real-world situations gives cadets an opportunity to grow as leaders.
“I’m proud and impressed by the dedication and selflessness of these cadets. Relief efforts for natural disasters continue long after the sky has cleared and the soil has dried, so these cadets may sacrifice a semester of school or delay their graduation to be a part of these relief efforts,” he said. “But it’s an invaluable experience, teaching them how to operate and lead in chaotic and complex situations — it’ll make them better leaders in our Army.”
The U.S. Army Cadet Command is the largest single source of new officers for the Army, commissioning the majority of the Army’s new officers each year through the senior ROTC program.