By Capt. Brianna McFarlandNovember 9, 2017
FORT HOOD, Texas -- Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets enrolled at Baylor University received first-hand experience on Army aviation when they partnered with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 244th Regiment, Oklahoma Army National Guard, Nov. 4 at Baylor University.
The 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion, equipped with UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, provided air movement to approximately 60 ROTC cadets from Baylor University to the Fort Hood Leadership Reaction Course. This partnership is built to spark interest in the ROTC community that is interested in aviation assets.
Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Steven Tabot spoke about the importance of training events such as this.
"We are training the future leaders of the Army. We want them to get used to doing Army stuff: working with other units, aviation aircraft, getting comfortable flying, leading Soldiers and leading people," said Tabot. "It gets cadets excited about doing ROTC and seeing the bigger picture at the end of the day."
Capt. Tyler Sharpe, Charlie Company Commander of the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion, was the pilot for the Black Hawk and spoke about how the mission was also important to him.
"The purpose [of this event] is two fold; one, to replicate some missions we will be doing in country," said Sharpe. "Secondly, and more importantly, we're exposing these young cadets and future leaders of the Army to the aviation branch and showing them what our capabilities are and hopefully springing up an interest in some of them to become the next set of aviation leaders."
The pilots and ROTC staff were committed to safety, ensuring that all cadets had their personal protective equipment. Cadets attended briefings to include a safety briefing where they learned how to properly enter and exit the aircraft.
For Cadet Savannah Jacobs, this was more than a simple training event -- this was one step to fulfilling a family legacy.
"I'm striving for aviation because my father was a pilot and that's just something I've always wanted to do," stated Jacobs. "I got to hang out at Fort Hood a lot and that's where I want to be, in the air. I want to cross this off of my list, but I want to fly Apaches."
The Baylor University ROTC program is attached to the Texas Christian University ROTC, which was introduced in 1951. The ROTC program shapes and molds the future leaders of the military and provides great leadership opportunities and educational assistance to do so. Multiple Army ROTC cadets at Baylor University have found the program to be a great pathway to enter the Army's Medical Department.
"I joined ROTC simply because I'm planning on going to medical school," stated Cadet Joshua Mihalicin. "The best way I feel I can serve my country is by serving the country's best in the medical field."
Cadet Carra Donaldson shared in those feelings and discussed her future aspirations.
"I'm a forensic anthropology pre-med major. I'd really like to be a medical examiner or anesthesiologist for the Army so the Baylor University ROTC program really provides a great pathway to that," stated Donaldson. "They provide great scholarships and leadership opportunities for that path as well."
The cadets thanked the Oklahoma Army National Guard unit for exposing them to aviation. It provided them information on an Army branch outside of Infantry.
"I really hope that today we have a great training event showing these guys everything about aviation and what the Army includes, not just infantry," stated Mihalicin.
The 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion is attached to the 449th Combat Aviation Brigade headquartered out of North Carolina. The unit is scheduled to deploy later this year in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield in the Middle East.