Young cadets from a local high school made an after-school visit to Fort Bragg, N.C. the afternoon of April 27 for a behind-the-scenes look at the Soldiers and history of the Army's special-operations force.
Hosted by the instructors of the David K. Thuma Noncommissioned Officer Academy, part of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, five cadets from the Village Christian Academy in Fayetteville met and spoke with senior NCOs from the Army's Special Forces, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations regiments about their own experiences in the Army.
"I remember being in their shoes at one time and reading stories about the Army's Special Forces," said Sgt. Maj. Patrick Fensom, the academy's deputy commandant and a career Special Forces Soldier. "It motivated me and led me to pursuing my dream of service in Special Forces; this trip may lead some of these cadets down a similar path."
Following their session with the NCO Academy's instructors, the students toured the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum on Fort Bragg, led by Mike Simpson, a retired Special Forces master sergeant, Vietnam War veteran and regular museum volunteer. Referencing military history dating back to the Treaty of Paris in 1783, Roger Vogel, the cadets' supervisor and military history teacher, advised his students to remember their tour when taking their upcoming military history final exam.
"We're from this community here in Fayetteville, where we have airborne and Special Forces Soldiers," said Vogel, a retired Army officer who served in a Ranger unit. "I'd say most of the kids at our school are affiliated with the Army in one way or another, so they want to know more about it."
"This trip is educational for these cadets," he said. "Military words and acronyms are almost like a second language, so this helps them decode it, like what a sergeant or captain is, and the difference between a green and maroon beret."
Several students participating in the trip had either already enlisted in the North Carolina Army National Guard or had plans to join the military in the coming year following graduation. Whether or not the students in his class joined the military, Vogel said the knowledge and experience gained as a cadet would help them be better citizens, armed with familiarity toward military service and emergency preparedness skills.
"Exposing these cadets to the history and mission of Army special-operations forces exposes them to our capabilities, and a possible future career choice for them," Fensom said. "The one thing we guarantee here at SWCS: the training you learn here, you will utilize."