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… And We’re Back, Continued

Posted by Rilee Newell - November 1, 2016 - Academics, Featured, Military Science, Rilee N., Students

Part of our squad after graduation.

Now that we covered the academic portion of my summer, let’s cover the ROTC portion, shall we?

This summer I attended CLC, which stands for Cadet Leadership Course. This is the culminating events for juniors who are headed into their final year of ROTC. The Army ships us all down to Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where we spend four weeks testing everything we have learned up to this point.

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Our squad posing after completing one of the events on an obstacle course. #SquadGoals

Our squad posing after completing one of the events on an obstacle course. #SquadGoals

The first week is meant to review and reteach what you should already know. This is also a good time to get to know everyone in your platoon as well because in the next couple weeks, you’re going to need their support. This first week was easy. Nothing too rigorous or mentally challenging. We did the rappel tower, an obstacle course, and we went through the gas chamber which is always hilarious. I’ve done this twice now; once at Basic Training and once at CLC. Actually being in the gas chamber is awful; you cannot breathe or see at all. They always make you answer questions like “Where are you from?” or “What’s your major?” Probably the easiest questions ever suddenly become impossible to answer because the gas is filling your lungs making it extremely difficult to breathe or speak. However, once you’re out of the gas chamber, the recovery process is too funny. You have to walk around in circles flapping your arms up and down like a bird. Everyone is crying and everyone has snot running down their face.

It’s moments like these that you just have to “embrace the suck” and laugh it off. Other than that during the first week, we sat through so many briefings about how to handle our finances and what life was going to be like after graduation, etc. All very valuable.

The next two weeks were a little more interesting: The field. DUH DUH DUH!!! At this point in the game, you have to rely on your platoon and squad for mental support. I made a really good friend, Melissa. She goes to school in Boston (no she doesn’t have an accent) and will be going on Active Duty when she graduates. Her and I connected immediately which helped a lot during our time in the field.

Melissa and I getting ready to head to the airport after graduation.

Melissa and I getting ready to head to the airport after graduation.

Melissa and I "embracing the suck" during one of the rainstorms we had while we were in the field.

Melissa and I “embracing the suck” during one of the rainstorms we had while we were in the field.

Okay, so first, we spent about three days in “tent city.” This is pretty much exactly how it sounds, a big space filled with tents. We slept on cots and got more briefs. We practiced different methods of approach when it came to enemy contact, we talked about how to interact with different cultures (my favorite), and we practiced different tactical exercises. We also got to shoot and qualify on our M4s, I shot 33 out of 40. Not too shabby! The time spent at tent city was used as our “pre-deployment.”

Once we left tent city, we spent the rest of our two weeks on our “deployment.” We got deployed at Atropia (a made-up city used for practical exercises), where we were tasked with the mission to secure the border. Every night we had to set up a patrol base. Patrol bases are used when an element needs to stop and reorganize or resupply. In our case, we used them as our home away from home. We slept here, we ate here, and we planned missions here. Each person and their battle buddy (someone to hang out with so we were never alone) would take a spot and the whole platoon would form a large circle in order to have 360 degrees of security. However, because the enemy is always moving, we always have to be moving as well. Each patrol base can only be held for no more than 24 hours. We had to pick up and move every single day; this was exhausting because as soon as you got comfortable, you had to move again.

One of my friends Chelsea and I at the Parade Field for graduation.

One of my friends Chelsea and I at the Parade Field for graduation.

Each day, we had a sort of mini-mission to complete that would hopefully help in the successful completion of our overall mission (secure the borders). For example, one day we had to conduct a Key Leader Engagement (KLE) where we would go to the local village and try to gain information from the locals to help in our path to success. These are my favorite types of missions because they are strategic, you have to ask the right questions to the right people in order to gain the intell. Another day we had to set up an ambush (surprise attack) on the enemy. The missions changed every day so we were always on our toes.

The weather for us wasn’t all that bad. It was so hot, but it only rained three times while we were in the field. Other cadets here at UW-Stevens Point had a totally different experience; they had rain every single day. That means that their clothes and boots were always wet so at night, when the temperature dropped, it was very very cold. We were lucky. People say that everything in Kentucky wants to kill you. There was poison ivy, poison sumac, snakes, spiders, ticks, chiggers, you name it. I found out that I am not allergic to poison ivy, so I got lucky. Others, however, weren’t so lucky. They had poison ivy everywhere …

On the last day of the two weeks, we had the company mission where three of the platoons came together to try to “kill” the enemy (4th platoon). The odds were in our favor. And we won! After that, we packed everything up and went back to the barracks! Finally!

Standing on the Parade Field before graduation.

Standing on the Parade Field before graduation.

Melissa and I waiting for our pizza on Family Day.

Melissa and I waiting for our pizza on Family Day.

Once we were back to the barracks, everything was nice and easy. We did PRT (Physical Readiness Training) almost every morning which was fine. The last week of CLC was pretty much just turning in all of our equipment and packing to go home.

The second to last day was Family Day. Neither Melissa nor I had family coming, so we spent the day together. We played golf, went shopping, got pizza and ate ice cream. It was a great day. The last day was graduation. We marched onto the parade field where we did a Pass and Review. This is where the commander inspects his or her troops as they walk by to ensure they are good to go! After we got the approval, we were off to the airport to go home!

Once we were at the airport, it was a mess trying to find all of our bags because everybody’s bags look exactly the same. But, once I found my bags, I went to check in and waited at my gate. Saying goodbye to Melissa was so hard. Who knew that spending just four weeks with someone could create such a bond? Once I was on the plane, it seemed surreal that I was really on my way home.

Overall, CLC was an amazing experience that I will never forget. I learned so much about myself and how to better myself in order to be a great leader. I can’t wait to hear about this year’s juniors’ experience during their time in Ft. Knox this summer!

Until next time! Pointers Lead the Way!
Cadet Newell

Sunrise on the Parade Field.

Sunrise on the Parade Field.

Rilee Newell is a cadet in the UW-Stevens Point ROTC program. She is majoring in sociology with an emphasis in deviance and social control with minors in military science and peace studies.

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