Fort Bliss, TX (U.S. Army) — Junior ROTC cadets from Ysleta School District and two New Mexico schools got an early taste of real Soldier drills from June 17 through 20 at different Fort Bliss training locations.
The 160 cadets were intermixed into four companies to share and gain knowledge on the different training, leadership skills and programs the various schools teach.
They were randomly chosen using same number of female ratio.
Exercises included rappelling; Bradley simulation training; marksmanship skills at the Engagement Skills Trainer; competitive swimming, water polo and drown proofing at Replica pool; teamwork and leadership skills at the Leadership Readiness Center; and more.
Although, several hesitated and two cried all the way down the rappel tower, they all went back for more. The LRC’s difficult drills confirmed cadets’ traits as leaders, team players or followers.
“These exercises helped the kids build confidence and self respect, which will help them move on,” said retired Sgt. 1st Class John Colleng, Army instructor for the Junior ROTC at Hanks High School.
All cadets were given an opportunity to assume leadership positions such as company commanders, squad leaders and first sergeants for at least 24 hours.
Depending on how well they performed, an award ceremony was held Saturday to recognize outstanding and most improved cadets. Awards were also given to the best score for land navigation orienteering course and several swimming competitions.
“The kids have really stepped forward and met all the challenges,” said retired Lt Col. Charles Dorsey, Junior ROTC coordinator and director of Army Instruction for the Ysleta Independent School District. “I think the future of our country is in good hands.”
Both Dorsey and Colleng expressed their gratitude to Fort Bliss for the support. This was the first time the cadets trained here; and the leadership agreed Fort Bliss is a great training facility and hope to bring cadets next year.
“This is a win, win situation,” said Colleng. “All the instructors were great helping our mission to motivate young people to become better citizens.”
Genesis Hernandez, a cadet at Ysleta High School, said she learned many interesting things such as facing her fears, the importance of following instructions and finishing the mission, and water survival; but particularly, one stood out the most – how to make a float out of her uniform.
“I really enjoyed my experience here,” said Hernandez. “I hope we can come back next year.”