ROTC cadets receive highest rankings at leadership course

Hannah Hunsinger | Collegian Megan Walden, senior in indusrial engineering, attempts to block a pass in a game of flicker ball as part the Army ROTC physical training in Memorial Stadium on Wednesday. Walden was one of eight cadets in the Wildcat Battalion to earn the highest rating possible during summer ROTC training.

“I expected to get very little sleep. I expected to get yelled at a lot. I expected to not have very much fun at all.” said Ryan Crosser, senior in hotel and restaurant management and an ROTC cadet, about the Leadership Development and Assessment Course held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Fort Lewis, Washington during the summer.

The Wildcat Battalion sent 19 cadets to Washington, and Crosser was one of eight cadets to receive the highest course rating possible. With a duration of 29 days and held every summer, Army ROTC cadets who attend receive leadership training and are evaluated on their training thus far.

“The biggest [challenge] is you know you’re being evaluated while you’re there, so it’s a whole month of you being on your toes, knowing that you’re being watched, knowing that at every second you have a grader that’s marking off something that you did,” Crosser said.

Cadets are evaluated in several areas, including a physical training test, day and night land navigation, tactical exercises and leadership ability. At the end of camp, cadets receive one of three ratings; an “E” for excellent, an “S” for satisfactory, or an “N” for not satisfactory.

According to Lt. Col. Robert Dixon, professor of military science at K-State, only about 26 of the roughly 6,000 cadets from all over the country that participate in the development course receive the E ratings.

This year, the Wildcat Battalion sent 19 cadets to LDAC, and of them eight returned with E ratings, which is 42 percent, well above the camp average and something that hasn’t happened for K-State since 2006.

“I was happy for them,” Dixon said. “They did really well … I’m proud for them and the battalion.”

Megan Walden, senior in industrial engineering, and Crosser both earned E’s for their performance at LDAC. Walden said she went to camp knowing that was exactly what she wanted.

“I wanted to go to get an E and do well so that I can better my chances of getting active duty because that’s really what I want,” Walden said. “I didn’t focus [too much] on that because I thought if I got too focused on the E I couldn’t get it. I was more focusing on doing everything I learned and doing it right, and then everything else would fall into place.”

Crosser, on the other hand, said he was not expecting his high rating.

“Did I honesty think I was going to get [an E] when I went to camp? No, I did not think so … I knew I was going to go there and try my best,” Crosser said. “Then once I got my first evaluation and I got and E, I thought, ‘well maybe there’s hope yet.’ I definitely had to work at it. I was very happy, pleasantly surprised.”

Both said they attribute their success to the training they’ve received here at K-State.

“K-State really does a good job in the train up session to LDAC.” Crosser said, “So when I went there I pretty much knew everything I needed to know. I didn’t know prior to going to camp that I would have all the information already, but thanks to the training I got here, I did.”

On top of getting an E rating, Walden was also ranked number one in her platoon at camp, which she said, “felt really good.”

“I didn’t really expect it because I was just doing my job, I was just doing what I thought was right and it pays off to do that,” Walden said. “It was a good feeling, but I know it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have the mentors and the people training me back here at K-State and if I didn’t have the support I did when I went to camp.”

Dixon said he is confident that next year’s cadets will do even better.

“I have charged the seniors with improving … I’ve challenged the seniors who did so well [this year], and they’ve taken it upon themselves, they want to improve the battalion,” Dixon said. “They’re the primary trainers in the battalion, the seniors will train the juniors, that’s the way it was last year, because they have the LDAC experience, they want to see them do better.”