UIndy students participate in ROTC

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“Does the colonel know we’re having a meeting?” one cadet asks.

“Yeah, but you know how he loves to talk,” another replies.

Assembled around the meeting room at 1000 Waterway Boulevard are 10 of the Military Science 4 cadets of the Capital Warrior Battalion. Combined with the Reserve Officer Training Corps program, there are more than 100 students from the major colleges of Marion County, including Franklin College. The MS4s’ year in their rank indicates how many years they have participated in ROTC. For the day’s class work, they will be briefing Lt. Col. Tim LaBahn, the head of the Indiana Univeristy-Purdue University Indianapolis Military Science department and officer in charge of the battalion, on the success of this semester’s three-day training period at Camp Atterbury.

Two seats to the right of LaBahn is University of  Indianapolis senior criminal justice major Grant Koenig. MS4 Koenig has participated in ROTC since his freshman year. A self–described Army brat, Koenig has always wanted to join the army.

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“I just kind of always knew I wanted to do it [join the Army],” he said. “My dad was in the army—he was there for 20 years. I just saw him, and he was my role model. He had a cool job. Everybody else’s parents in elementary school, they were boring–office jobs.  My dad drove tanks.”

Koenig has trained to become an infantry officer in the Army and will take command of an infantry platoon in the Indiana Army National Guard after his graduation.

According to Koenig, participating in Army ROTC does not necessarily mean commissioning as an officer. Cadets may participate in activities without any commitment to serve for their first two years. At the end of their sophomore year, they must decide whether or not they want to contract as an officer.

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MS4 Grant Koeing (top) and Cadet Private Sarah Rose (bottom) are cadets in the ROTC program, along with over 100 other students from Marion County colleges. They are both members of the Capital Warrior Battalion. Photo by Jennifer Ulrey

At an hour when most of their classmates are either still asleep or groggily waking up, the cadets of the Capital Warrior Battalion are busy at work. Every Monday and Wednesday at 6:45 a.m., the battalion meets at IUPUI for physical training. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the cadets have class from 7 a.m. until 8 a.m. The classes cover things such as first aid and military tactics.

Some cadets, like UIndy freshman exercise science major Sarah Rose, are just learning the basics. Rose is currently taking classes like “The Role of the Army” and “Army Customs and Traditions.” While Koenig and his fellow MS4s are briefing Lt. Col. LaBahn, Cadet Private Rose is guiding her partner to safety in a trust and communication exercise.

While Rose’s partner made it through the “room” without setting off any of the “traps” the team was one second over time, and informed by the MS4 running the course that they would need to repeat it. Rose and her partner, Private Cadet Jennifer Yi from IUPUI, met through the program.

Rose, like Koenig, said she always had an interest in joining the Army.

“When I was in school, all of my projects were about the military or history,” she said. “I would love to be in Civil Affairs, which is the liaison between the Army and civilians we are with.”

Rose said she plans to be a career officer. Since she receives a scholarship for ROTC, she already is contracted as an officer in the Army.

Koenig, who is contracted, said he will wait to see how much he likes his first term of service before deciding whether or not he will continue a career with the Army.

Despite that, Koenig is excited to begin doing what the Amy has trained him to do.

“I mean, just the adventure of it – being able to be a part of something greater than myself,” Koenig said. “Being a part of ROTC’s almost been like a four year internship, because I’ve just learned so much. Honestly, if you wanted [me] to sum it up in a few words, I wanted to do this because I want to live an uncommon life.”

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