From ROTC to Military Service: UNH Gives Up Only Its Best

Lynn Jenkins, Esq.

You see them crisscrossing the Quad. They travel in packs. You rarely see just one. They are distinguished not only by their crew-cuts

ne such, a nonesuch, is Cadet Junior Adam R. Wolfe who has both answered the call and met the demand, electing the army as his chosen, and challenging, career.

and clean-cut dogfaces with fatigues proudly worn, but also by their caps set at the correct angle, shading their eyes. They carry themselves with ramrod straight posture, upright military bearing. They look tough. They act tough. They ARE tough. Army tough. They are the cadets in the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program.

The Army ROTC has only been on the UNH campus for two years, but the program has a storied history in Connecticut since the 1800’s, a history which includes attracting cadet candidates who are only the better of the best. The selection process is strenuous – arduous – including multiple interviews, leadership and team orientation testing, physical fitness evaluations, intelligence assessments both through grade point average and SAT scores, and a final application review at the top levels of the army command in Washington, D.C. Scholarships are only awarded to candidates with the highest achievements in the three focus areas: (1) scholastic excellence; (2) physical fitness; and (3) proven leadership skills. Most importantly, only the fearless need apply.

The program operates under the nurturing bark and bite command of Captain Corey R. Holmes. Captain Holmes, who also serves as an assistant professor of military science, demands the best from his recruits. And they deliver. They must. With less than thirty mission slots for seventy-five cadets seeking commissions, their performance must be of the highest caliber. He states, “Our program, here at UNH, is extremely competitive giving the army the best that the University of New Haven has to offer. We do that by maintaining an Order of Merit in which cadets have a general sense of their standing on the list. Since we are building teamwork, we encourage our cadets to help each other, to work together, to improve their respective standings.”

To participate in the ROTC program, cadets are required to dedicate their college electives to core military science courses in which they learn basic soldiering skills such as map and compass reading, offensive and defensive positions, the chain of command and insignia for enlisted and officer ranks, and customs and courtesies. These courses are the equivalent of basic training for the raw army recruit. Unbelievably, one of the first skills that a freshman cadet learns is a skill that we civilians take for granted. They learn how to walk. But army cadets do not walk, they march. Under the supervision of upper-class cadets, freshmen cadets are drilled to military precision so that it not only looks good when they pass on parade, but also so that they function as a team and understand the discipline involved in being a soldier. Teamwork and discipline learned at this initial level permeates each task to be conquered in the next four years.

Captain Holmes emphasizes that the training received in the ROTC program translates easily to the civil sector. “Many of the management and leadership skills used by the top Fortune 500 companies are taken from the military. We teach the same type of skills, such as time and stress management, which you would learn in any MBA program.” He adds that the program promotes the goals and objectives useful in every aspect of the civilian realm from law enforcement to engineering to life support. Thus, when cadets graduate from UNH, they not only have their degrees in their chosen field of study such as criminal justice or forensic science, they have earned commissions as second lieutenants. From there, and with additional training, they do three or four years of service in any of the sixteen branches of the Active Army, the Army Reserve, or the Army National Guard. Holmes states, “They become leaders for life.”

Captain Holmes commends the University administration for welcoming the program. After ROTC was pushed off many campuses throughout the United States in the 1970’s in protest against the Vietnam War, he sees a re-emergence of the program at both land-grant schools and private universities. On a campus where space is premium, the University has provided the program with its own office in Bixel Hall, with a liaison in the undergraduate admissions office, and with human resources support staff. It has also backed the core curriculum and recognized the program requisite of absolute physical fitness by assigning space at ChargerRec for morning calisthenics. In the fall, the University will demonstrate its supreme commitment to the success of the program by allocating a block of rooms in Botwinik Hall so that the cadets may bunk together. Sharing dorm space will foster camaraderie as well as the feeling of functioning as a team, aspects essential to succeed in such a rigorous program and, later, in military life. And, with the office just steps away, it will seem as if the cadets have their own tiny base on campus.

At UNH, the ROTC program has called many and demanded much. Few can answer that call or meet that demand. One such, a nonesuch, is Cadet Junior Adam R. Wolfe who has both answered the call and met the demand, electing the army as his chosen, and challenging, career. Cadet Wolfe, who has a 3.7 GPA, hails from Southwick, Massachusetts. A criminal justice major, Cadet Wolfe was attracted to the ROTC because of its central values of loyalty, duty, respect, integrity. Moreover, there is a history of family service to the military. His grandfather served in the navy during World War II and the Korean conflict, and now serves as his grandson’s mentor. With this family support and guidance, Cadet Wolfe has embraced the ROTC program as a way of life, a way to better himself, a way to prepare for the future. He cites the military cadre for the UNH program – active military personnel who have over one hundred years of combined experience – as providing the continuous cycle of learning which has pushed him to be the better of the best.

And, only the better of the best has seen the world as Cadet Wolfe has seen it. In the summer of 2011, he had the opportunity to jump out of a C-130 aircraft at an elite airborne training school in Fort Benning, Georgia. Of course, he landed on his feet, which is essential to safety. In the press release describing this achievement as well as his others, he states, “You hit the ground at ten to twenty miles per hour depending on weather conditions. You really have to learn to land right to prevent injury.” For the first jump, he admitted that he was a little nervous, but “really pumped. “When I turned and jumped out of the door I felt a rush.” This training, which was only open to outstanding ROTC cadets from all military branches during the summer after their sophomore year of college, included a night jump and jumps in full battle gear. Between jumping out of airplanes, maintaining an exemplary grade-point average as a criminal justice major with a minor in Arabic, sustaining excellence in his duties as a cadet, working at ChargerRec as a supervisor, participating in a myriad of clubs and organizations, and constantly achieving a perfect (and rare) score of 300 on monthly physical fitness tests, it is difficult to believe that Wolfe could have time for a social life.

For more information about the ROTC program at UNH, visit http://www.newhaven.edu/31702/ or contact Captain Corey R. Holmes at [email protected]