By Sgt. Lucas Hoskins, 41st Fires Bde. PAOJune 14, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas- Col. John Thomson, commanding officer of the 41st Fires Brigade, his wife Holly, as well as the Heart of Texas West Point Society, hosted a reception at the Thomson's residence for the U.S. Military Academy cadets participating in the Cadet Troop Leading Training program, June 10.
The reception presented the cadets an opportunity to relax and talk with former West Point graduates and senior leaders.
Thomson said that the program is designed to give the cadets a feel for what life in the Army is like outside of the classroom.
"West Point is not what people like to call the real Army, so it lets the cadets have the real-life experience of what it's like in the real world to lead troops," said 1st Lt. Dave Meador, a platoon leader in Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment.
Meador, a 2008 graduate of West Point, along with other platoon leaders on post, are sponsoring some of the cadets enrolled in CTLT.
"I'm grateful for this opportunity," said Cadet Jonathan Greeny, a sophomore at West Point. "I knew I wanted to be in the Army and I knew I wanted to be an officer. Now, I get the chance to do that and better myself as a leader. School is completely different from Fort Hood, it's good that we get to see what goes on behind the scenes instead of people trying to sell us the Army."
Cadet Aaron Greer, a native of Calypso, Mont., said his first days here almost put him in shock.
"This has completely exceeded my expectations. "I've learned that you have to rely so much on your Soldiers and NCO's because as a lieutenant you really don't know what you're doing," he said.
When asked what his favorite experience of his time on Fort Hood was Greer replied, "Fort Hood introduced me to [a new strength and conditioning fitness methodology]. Being here has completely changed my perspective of what physical fitness means."
Greeny, who also serves as a manager for the West Point hockey team said he has learned a lot about Army life since being here.
"I've learned to trust in the NCO Corps. They obviously have the experience and are the backbone," said Greeny. "We have to use them and their experience as much as possible to build ourselves as leaders."
Among distinguished guests attending the reception was Maj. Gen. Dan Allyn, commanding officer of the 1st Cavalry Division, who gave his remarks to the cadets.
"You will find you could be like me in 1981 when I showed up to my first battalion, and I was an "Army of One" as far as West Point graduates go. So this comradery that you have enjoyed for the last four years, bottle it up. You need to learn to wrap your arms around your brothers and sisters in arms, regardless of their commissioning source," said Allyn.
As encouragement for the cadets to keep an open mind after graduation Allyn said, "If someone had told me when I was a cadet or a lieutenant that I would still be here going into my 30th year of service, I would have told them they were crazy." He also added, "I didn't join the Army for a long time; I joined the Army for a good time. Now I've been having a good time for a mighty long time."
This marks the first of three iterations of cadets to conduct CTLT on Fort Hood this year. The second will consist of ROTC cadets and the third will again be West Point students.
West Point graduate Richard Powell, who now serves as the III Corps historian and is also a member of the HOTWPS, echoed Allyn's sentiments.
"This event gives the cadets a chance to talk to higher ranking officers that have been in their shoes in a relaxed environment. They get to share their experiences with the cadets and hopefully help to guide them in their final years of school."
Cadets were invited to have as much food and drink as they pleased and were encouraged to talk to the officers in attendance. The cadets are scheduled to return to New York, June 16.