Lasting friendships, skills forged as Alpha Company graduates LTC
Alpha Cadets celebrate graduation after the ceremony by taking photos with each other and their parents. The cadets headed for home today after graduation at the Leaders Training Course. Photo by Corey Ohlenkamp.
By Matthew Langston
Leader’s Training Course
Cadets stood proud as the 113th Army Band played “The Army Song.” Awards and handshakes were given out to a line of Cadets honoring their achievements at the Leader’s Training Course. Army Colonels gave speeches about the significance of their accomplishments and dedication shown throughout the past weeks.
For the 174 Cadets of Alpha Company, the last month has consisted of long days filled with intense training and team-building exercises. These tests have pushed the Cadets to their physical and mental limits, forcing them to pull from within to complete various tasks and the graduation ceremony was the culmination of their devotion and hard work.
Col. Maria Gervais, Deputy Commander of the United States Army Cadet Command, spoke to the Cadets and told them the benefits of this opportunity, whether they decided to pursue a career in the military or not.
“The skills and attributes that you’ve developed here are going to help you throughout anything you do in your life,” she said.
Cadets have spent time on the post learning core values and skills such as respect, determination, overcoming fears, and confidence.
A major skill is teamwork, something that Cadet David Witham said he learned an immense amount about while at LTC. He said while ROTC has more of an individual focus, this course showed him the power of working as a team to complete your missions and goals.
“You don’t want to let your brothers and sisters down,” said Witham, who attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “You overcome a lot of obstacles and challenges, pushing yourself and others at the same time.”
Cadet Grant Whittington said respect is one major attribute he will take away from this experience. He said respect is something to be used in all places, not just the military. Although Whittington knew a bit about the military with his ROTC background, he was surprised at how much knowledge he gained from spending his summer at Fort Knox.
“What I learned exceeded my expectations,” he said. “I am surprised by how much I am pulling away from LTC.”
The student at Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss., hopes to pursue a career in the military as he continues his training to become an officer. He said he plans to continue moving forward in the military and growing as a person.
“I’m not in the military yet, but I feel like my career starts now,” he said. “Now is when it’s time to get serious and focus on growing myself as a Cadet and as a scholar.”
Witham said graduating from LTC is a testament to how much a person can accomplish in such a short amount of time. With a fear of heights, he said he sees himself as a more confident person after completing LTC and challenges that forced him to face his fear.
“I came here knowing a good amount of stuff, but I definitely came out of here a better, well-rounded person,” Witham said.
Whittington sees the course as a place to learn what you are made of and to push yourself every single day. He said LTC proves to mold Cadets into better people and future Soldiers.
“The strongest Cadet here struggled at something,” he said. “There is no way to get past LTC without getting better at something.”
As the graduates of Alpha Company take away skills, knowledge and attributes needed to perform better in their future military and civilian lives, they wasted no time in planning future events with their fellow Cadets.
“We’re talking about meeting up and going to a Red Sox game,” Whittington said. “You make friends here for life, not just LTC.”