Rappelling for the Illini

02/22/2020  |  By 1st Lt. Kiersten Fenner 4-399th BN (CST) 1st Brigade, 104th Training Division - CST
The Griffon
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Sgt. 1st Class Alfred Brown (foreground) and SSG Jefferson Alexander (background) on the field before kickoff coordinating with game officials.

FORT KNOX, Ky. 4-399th CST Battalion conducted a rappelling demonstration in support of Military Appreciation events at the University of Illinois.

The University of Illinois Army ROTC is comprised of nearly one hundred Cadets seeking to earn a commission as an officer in the United States Army. One important event to the University as well as its ROTC program remains the Military Appreciation Day football game which was held November 2, 2019 with over fifteen events during the game day celebration at Memorial Stadium.

Memorial Stadium was built in 1923 to honor the 189 University of Illinois students and alumni who died during World War I. The names of these students and alumni are inscribed on columns throughout the stadium to commemorate their memory as well as their place in the schools’ history. The stadium also has another Veterans’ memorial that honors the 948 alumni, students, faculty and staff who were killed in our nation’s wars and conflicts since 1918. With such a rich history of military service and sacrifice, the University strives to ensure that it honors this rich legacy.

Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Tinsley (foreground) and Sgt. Corey Saxe (background) rappelling down a tower wall at the Stadium.

4-399th Battalion Bravo Company Soldiers were honored to travel to Memorial Stadium and participate in the military appreciation game. Prior to the game, twelve non-commissioned officers rappelled down the Northwest tower of the stadium during the marching Illini pregame celebration. Following the rappel the twelve non-commissioned officers delivered the game ball to the 50 yard line in the center of the field before the Illini faced off with Rutgers University.

After conducting rehearsals, 4-399 Soldiers observe the Illini band prepare for Military Appreciation Day activities.

Sgt.1st Class Alfred Brown led Bravo Company’s non-commissioned officers during this event by serving as the rappel master and establishing the three anchor points for the 80-foot sync rappel, which ensured the safety of the twelve non-commissioned officers executing the rappel. The Bravo Company soldiers routinely rappel and instruct cadets on a 65-foot rappel wall in Fort Knox, Kentucky. When asked about the success of the event, SFC Alfred Brown remarked that “these non-commissioned officers have loved doing this and it has been an incredible experience for them. They executed the mission extremely well – as I knew they would. This is a great way to reward outstanding Soldiers and non-commissioned officers in the Company.”

The 4-399th Soldiers also served as an example of technical proficiency and comradery for the ROTC cadets hoping to commission in the coming years. When asked about the comradery of the event and the interactions with the ROTC program, Capt. Richard Mattingly proudly shared that “this has been a great opportunity to showcase our Soldiers’ abilities to future officer and the public. I think these fans were genuinely inspired by the event here at the University of Illinois football game. This also gets the word out about our unit – so it doubles as a recruiting event.”

Rappelmasters inspect ropes and anchor points in preparation for the rappel with game ball.

The University of Illinois Veterans Day event was a winning event not only for the football team which won 38-10 but also for all soldiers who proudly demonstrated their skills and abilities to the fans at Memorial Stadium. This event will remain a symbol of the relationship 4-399th Battalion has with cadets and demonstrates the commitment of 4-399th Battalion Soldiers to train Cadets during Cadet Summer Training (CST) and throughout the year.

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