FORT CAVAZOS, Texas - Once serving together as candidates in the Florida A&M University’s ROTC program, Col. Frank A. Hooker and Lt. Col. Delaruis V. Tarlton, have reunited in the 1st Cavalry Division almost 20 years after attending the program.
Designed to attract, motivate, and prepare students to serve as commissioned officers in the U.S. Army, the ROTC program at Florida A&M, helps students achieve more than the typical college experience by introducing them to the many opportunities the Army has to offer.
“My parents wanted all four of their kids to attend college, however, they were not able to afford the college tuition,” said Hooker. “My father, Sgt. 1st Class Augusta Grace, strongly recommended that I join the ROTC program. All four of their children would attend and graduate from Florida A&M University.”
Reflecting on his time in the ROTC program, Tarlton recalled being one year ahead of Hooker in the program.
“During my senior year, I was not able to participate in physical training in the mornings due to a scheduling conflict,” said Tarlton. “Hooker and I routinely attended the afternoon PT sessions together and I also interacted with him during leadership labs.”
Although the two had their fellow cadets to lean on, they utilized mentors to help guide and shape them into the soldiers and leaders they are today.
“Lt. Col. Tony Memminger, one of my leaders from the program, was a demanding and strict leader who pushed myself and fellow cadets to our limits, motivated by a desire for our success,” said Tarlton. “Despite his toughness, he showed genuine care for us, exemplified by allowing myself to prioritize my family over a significant ROTC event. This experience shaped my perspective on leadership, emphasizing the importance of taking care of individuals within an organization as the key to achieving collective goals.”
Following their graduation, the two found themselves assigned to various units across a multitude of locations, until eventually being reassigned to Fort Cavazos, Texas, within the 1st Cavalry Division. Despite their physical separation during this time, the two remained in contact.
“When I was selected for battalion command in 2019, I reached out to Hooker for advice because he is such an outstanding officer and gave me everything he had in his arsenal to set me up for success,” said Tarlton. “I would not have been successful in battalion command if Hooker did not set me up for success from the start.”
After his battalion command, Tarlton was selected to take the Logistics Officer in Charge position at division and later found out Hooker will be coming to work at the division as well.
“When I heard the news, I was ecstatic because I knew Hooker was the best choice to serve as the G3 for any organization; and I was very fortunate to have him as my battle buddy again after all these years,” said Tarlton. “I knew having us coming from the same ROTC program is huge and it made me proud to know that Hooker and I had come so far from our time at Florida A&M.”
Whether in the Army for a short amount of time or for a full career, soldiers find themselves building strong relationships that last a lifetime. It is these relationships that give them motivation to improve not only themselves, but their battle buddies around them.
“The best part of being a member of the Army team is the people and the comradery,” said Hooker. “Even if you do not want to make the Army a career, without a shadow of a doubt, it will provide you with the skills to make you more marketable in the civilian sector.”