Sept. 24, 2012
Speckled green outfits dotted the wooded area along Eagle Rock Road. Groups of two jogged in synchronization from one orange flag to the next. Teammates negotiated which path to take next and checked to ensure their numbers corresponded correctly.
The energy steadily rose, building excitement in the air. But the urban orienteering exercise was only the beginning of what was in store for the cadets.
Every year, UCCS’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps constructs a day of training exercises. Formerly called MS1 and 2 FTX, Operation Kokanee Spawn “is an opportunity to throw the freshmen and sophomores into the experience,” Battalion Commander MS4 Cadet Kreston Keehne explained.
ROTC cadets began their day on Saturday, Sept. 15 before dawn, the temperature slowly warming above 40 degrees.
The MS3 and MS4 cadets started working a few hours before the first exercise as they prepared the course for the MS1 and MS2 cadets.
Three orange flags were spread over the expansive fields behind the Mountain Lion Stadium. Cadets began their challenge at 9 a.m. and were allotted two hours for completion. Most completed the orienteering within half an hour.
The assault course followed the orienteering exercise. Cadets were divided into nine squads of seven people each.
Garbed in their military uniforms, teams made their way to the field. Obstacles included crossing a rope bridge, balancing on a log and crawling through mud under barbed wire.
Cadets also armed themselves with paintball guns and conducted an assault on simulated enemy forces. “My gun kept jamming,” MS1 Cadet Antero Guy said. “I had to let my team shoot.”
Afterwards, crews made their way across a gully where they were provided with a new mission: knock out an enemy bunker.
While overtaking the bunker, an MS3 designated one cadet, usually the heaviest, as an injured solider. The remaining members had to transport their comrade on a stretcher through the rest of the course.
Exhausted, muddy and overwhelmed with adrenaline, the finished squads assembled in a large group at the beginning of the course.
Parents observed their children from under a tent. All were smiling and cheering for their kids. “I’m really proud,” said Eric Joern, father of MS2 Cadet Jared Joern.
Cadets were provided time to relax and fall into formation. Eleven cadets were instructed to move outside of the group, assembling into a parallel formation.
Pep talks that commended the cadets for their efforts were followed by an award ceremony. Two teams consisting of two cadets each were honored for first and second positions in the urban orienteering exercise.
Jared Joern and James Flaherty, both MS2s, were awarded first place, and MS2 Dmitry Yershov and MS1 Antero Guy earned second place. Both teams received a commander’s coin.
Squad Four was chosen as the best overall in the assault course, leading with a time of 33 minutes and 50 seconds.
Cadets Jacob Camacho (MS2), Adam Nasif (MS2), Sergio Ortega (MS2), James McDonald (MS1), Dominic Maffia (MS1), Thalia Bohn (MS1) and Ronni Lynn (MS1) were awarded Maglite flashlights.
“The cadets are SALs – scholar-athlete-leaders,” said Lieutenant Colonel Mark Thomas.
Cadets were provided a final motivational speech before dispersing.