Training for Combat
It's an annual event, but this was the first year the National Guard flew the cadets from Columbia to Macon in Blackhawk helicopters.
The ROTC program prepares cadets to be officers and teaches them skills to use in the field against potential enemies.
"The first year, they learn the basics of being a soldier," explained Army ROTC Commander Kirk Wallace. "The second year, they learn how to be a soldier coupled with how to be an officer, a leader and a manager."
Friday's mission was designed to simulate combat conditions. But, Missouri woods served as the desert and paintball guns subbed for M-16 rifles.
"We do land navigation and combat-survival tests, which is like in a pool environment in road marches," said Wallace.
It's a change of pace from the cadets' routine, so students will do anything to attend.
"I missed two classes," admitted Ray Flieg. "But, I have a pretty good relationship with my professors, and usually talk to them well beforehand, so it isn't a big deal."
Added Erin Sallee, "Sometimes, you have to switch around tests or you have to take a test early or turn in papers early."
Cadets said sacrifices were worth it to participate in the training mission and learn combat skills.