You can easily spot them in a crowd. They are easily noticeable on campus and they are everywhere, fondly referred to by the student body as ROTC (pronounced roht-see). They are the men and women of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. Program.
While most of us can barely handle completing our majors, these dedicated students also serve their country by training to become a naval officer while completing their undergraduate degree.
If you have not heard of them, you have most likely seen them across campus, walking to their classes in full uniform, practicing drills in the Goergen Athletic Center or even being woken up by their shouts and yells while they run at dawn.
During Freshman Orientation, while most of the student body is out amusing themselves, ROTCs endure two-day-long physical and mental training designed to make sure they have what it takes to become an officer upon graduation and take their place among America’s young sailors and Marines.
In addition to the training and physical punishment they face on a daily basis, they also have daily tasks that, as students at UR, we may fail to appreciate because they are so commonplace, such as the daily raising and lowering of the American flag on the Fraternity Quad.
It seems that wherever you go at UR, you’re almost sure to encounter someone who is in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. These extraordinary men and women continue the traditions of one of the oldest University-based naval and marine officers training programs in the country.
Unfortunately, due to their exceptional leadership, ROTCs may be called to serve. On June 26, UR NROTC had its first share of the Iraqi death toll. Captain Philip Dykeman (SUNY Brockport class of ’99) died in the Anbar Province when a suicide bomber attacked an Iraqi tribal council meeting. Two other Marines, as well as over 20 others, were also killed in the same attack.
However, Dykeman’s sacrifice was not in vain. Since the attack, the United States has managed to fully turn over control of the Anbar Province back to the Iraqis from the hands of Al Qaeda. Thanks to the sacrifices of brave ROTCs like Dykeman, Anbar is the tenth of 18 provinces to be turned over to Iraqi control since America’s initial invasion in 2003.
Because of heartbreaking losses such as these, this year’s Meliora Weekend included a new event. The Naval ROTC hosted its first 5K run to commemorate all those who have fought or are still fighting for our country. The first ‘Colonel Ogle Memorial 5K” was held on Saturday, Oct. 18 to celebrate the life of Colonel Larry Ogle, a former commanding officer in the Naval ROTC at UR. The run commemorates the extraordinary sacrifices of not only our own graduated ROTCs fighting in the field, but also the lives of those who continue to fight over in Iraq.
It is easy to look over the unsung dedication of these students on our campus. However, the sacrifices these students endure every day on campus and the sacrifices they will continue to bear after they graduate are worth enough for students to give them at least a second look, and maybe even some respect.
Because who knows, in the next few years, your former lab partner or roommate could be a national hero.
Jung is a member of the class of 2011.