On October 21, 2020, the 4-399th REGT Reserve Soldiers of Ft. Knox, Ky., set out for Ft. McClellan, Alabama, to help train Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Cadets. This training is essential for third year ROTC Cadets to be commissioned as officers in the U.S. military.
Normally, Cadet Summer Training (CST) is conducted over 38 days in the summer at Ft. Knox. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, universities were not able to gather for this training, which usually involves thousands of Cadets from all over the country. Instead, many universities held training activities at their home locations, and the trainers travelled to them. This allowed for a smaller group of Cadets to be trained at once, and for a shorter amount of days.
This particular block of training had about 200 Cadets and Cadre together (separated into small groups) for three days of selected training activities, all of which were outdoors. Physical distancing and mask wearing were strictly enforced. The universities that participated were University of Alabama, University of North Alabama, Alabama A&M, University of Alabama Birmingham, and Jackson State University from Mississippi. The University Commanders and Instructors were very welcoming and appreciative of our support and were very pleasant to train with. They helped arrange for barracks for our cadre at Ft. McClellan, and all worked together well to provide a smoothly operated training event.
Personally, as one of the Cadre (Medic to be more specific), I enjoyed the change of pace, the change of scenery, and change of season. Anniston, Alabama, was beautiful with fall colors and cooler weather. The first two days were perfect and sunny for the firing range and for the land navigation courses, but what training event would be complete without rain? On the last day, which was the STX (Situational Training Exercise) lanes, it poured down rain all day, making the training weather complete.
As the Medic, I was present at all the training activities, which were the zeroing range, the qualifying range, day land navigation, night land navigation, and the STX lanes. There were no major accidents, just the occasional twisted ankle in the field, cuts and bruises, blistered feet, and headaches. A bored medic is a happy medic! I enjoyed watching the Cadets making their best efforts to succeed at each event.
There are usually some snafus that occur during training, of course. There was a lost Cadet on the Land Navigation course (found after an hour). On the qualifying range, this was the first time many of them even fired the M-4 rifle. It took so many times for some of them to qualify, that they ran out of ammo. But all Cadets for whom it was mandatory to shoot had their chance, so it was still a successful event. On the night land nav course, the medic (wait, that’s me!) was briefly distracted from her duties when a tiny black kitten (so very tiny) wandered under her casualty evacuation vehicle (CASEVAC) van. So, as a medic, I did save a life that night, he would have been predator food for sure! Yes, I still have him, his name is Boo Ninja, and so I will always remember my time in Ft. McClellan. All in all, it was a fun and successful training event.