It was a sunny morning with a bright blue sky and a cool breeze. Students went about their business walking to class or sitting outside enjoying the weather when a choppy, reverberating sound began to envelope the campus.
What sounded like the nearby Lehigh Valley Hospital helicopter was actually a much louder U.S. Army CH47 Chinook. The dual-rotor craft flew over the University Center, Sycamore and Hawthorne Suites, rattling the windows of the dormitories as it circled and made its approach to land in the rugby field.
The Chinook helicopter landed on campus as part of a training exercise for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets and to share the military’s mission with the campus community on Thursday, April 6.
As the turbulent winds from aircraft settled, many people gathered along the chain length fence as the pilots shutdown the engines, silencing the deafening noise.
From 12 to 3 p.m., the public could see and enter the aircraft and learn about the military from the service members. The event was a way for the Army to educate the public and gain exposure.
“A lot of people don’t quite understand the military as a career field. ROTC provides an opportunity for folks who are going to college to see one fascist of the military,” said Lt. Col. Bill White, professor of military science.
As children and college students looked at the aircraft, there were many cadets eager to share their experience and knowledge of ROTC. For one cadet, joining the Army has been her dream.
“I’ve always had an interest in the military. My dad was in the military. I wanted to go enlisted, but he told me to get a degree first. Then, I learned about ROTC and everything fell into place,” said Company Commander Angelina Bertrand.
Bertrand’s father was an enlisted military policeman. She wanted to follow her father’s path and decided to enroll here at ESU as a criminal justice major. When graduates, she’ll enter the Army as a commissioned military police officer.
According to White, ROTC is a program that is taken concurrently with students’ major classes. In addition to the standard ESU curriculum, students learn valuable leaderships skills that will allow them to lead men and women in the Army.
Bertrand, along with 21 other ESU cadets, traveled to Fort Indiantown Gap near Harrisburg for a weekend of field exercises. Once there, they practiced propelling, took confidence courses and range qualifications. They’re also put into leadership positions and tested on how well they do.
The head of ROTC at ESU said the program can provide many benefits and opportunities for students.
“If someone doesn’t have a job they’re looking at after school or if they need financial aid, the ROTC program can be a path to opportunities and scholarships. If you follow all four years, you’ll have a job after school as a commissioned officer,” said Captain Jefferson Kramer.
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