The legend of the LDAC ants

Justin Trujillo a member of the 2011 Public Affaris office stands next to one of the legendary Ant hills at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. This ant hill topped out just under Five feet tall and Six feet wide. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

By: Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

The forest floor of Joint Base Lewis-McChord is alive, alive with ants. Cadets see for themselves the true power of nature as they maneuver around the mini highways of moving sticks and pine needles during their base-wide training. The Squad Situational Training exercises (SSTX) and patrol (PSTX) lanes are where Cadets get an up-close encounter with the six-legged legends of the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC).

If Cadets hadn’t been briefed on the enormous ant hills prevalent in the tactics training area, they might have been concerned.

All Cadets are briefed before they conduct a mission about the possible environmental hazards, and the ants are one of them, said Maj. John Brauneis, the tactics safety Officer. Read more of this post

Cadet joins to honor Soldier’s legacy

By: Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

Choosing to join the U.S. Army is a big decision. Some Cadets know from a young age that they want to join the military, while others decide in college. For Cadet Paul Klotz a somber day two years ago defined his future and caused him to make the commitment.

“I don’t know, it’s just that funny feeling you get where you want to do something that matters for yourself and for others, and the motivating factor for me to actually join was him,” said Klotz, from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.

Cadet Paul Klotz from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point chose to join the Army in memory of his late mentor, Green Beret Sgt. Todd Pruett. Klotz graduates from LDAC on Friday, August 3rd at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals.

The “him” Klotz refers to is the late Green Beret Sgt. Todd Pruett.

Pruett had served in the U.S. Army Special Forces for many years until his honorable discharge. He then rejoined his family floor covering business and coached sports in his West Bend, Wis. community.

“Todd was my friend and mentor. I grew up with his kids and he was my coach growing up,” said Klotz.

Pruett passed away after a courageous battle with acute leukemia. The community had embraced the Soldier, holding bone marrow drives and wearing shirts with the slogan “Do it for Pruett” throughout town.

One of the drives was held at Klotz’s parent’s grocery store, ‘Klotz Piggly Wiggly’ in their hometown.

The retired Soldier passed away on July 4, 2010, a day that changed Klotz’s life.

Klotz, still in college, decided to join the Army ROTC program and become an Officer.

Klotz’s plan is to complete the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) and graduate college next year with his social science degree, after which he will join the infantry.

He said that his parents understood this was something that he had to do. Read more of this post

Marching as one

Cadets of the 9th Regiment complete their 10k foot march. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

By: Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – The sun plays peek-a-boo over the horizon as Cadets gear up at the regimental assembly area for the culminating event of their tactics training, the 10k foot march.

Prepared and ready to go, anxious Cadets get a head start on their 5:30 start time and step off at 5:20 a.m.

Company Tactical Officer, Lt. Col. Stacy Seaworth, who will lead the company of Cadets from beginning to end, directs Alpha Company off the line first.

Though the march is not a timed event, most regiments finish in under two hours, said Mr. Steven Lopez, the tactics committee operations officer in charge of the march.

As Cadets step off the grass, their well-worn boots crush the gravel, the rocks popping and crackling beneath their feet. Read more of this post

Leading under pressure

By Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Infiltrating the enemy and obtaining intel are just two skills that Cadets master during tactics training at the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC).

In the days leading up to training, Cadets spend hours learning how to interact with the people of Atropia during their Cultural Awareness training. Atropia is a fictitious country, primarily Spanish speaking, that is meant to resemble culture in the Middle East and Southwest Asian countries.

Seventh Regiment Cadets capture Col. Manuel Dehoya, played by Sgt. Jeff Berger, during patrolling (PTRL) training on Lane 98 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals.

Understanding the kinds of environments they will be introduced to overseas helps Cadets to succeed while operating in those circumstances at LDAC.

The land of Atropia is populated by Atropian civilians as well as the South Atropian People’s Army, SAPA, also known to Cadets as “the bad guys”.

Cadets are taught how to complete their mission and extract the SAPA forces with the least amount of civilian disturbance as possible. This can be hard at times since SAPA forces can lay low and disguise themselves as civilians. Telling friendly civilians apart from enemy forces can at times be almost impossible.
Read more of this post

Eating in action

By Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

Sixth Regiment Cadet Marquise Young from Campbell University enjoys a meal before doing the night Land Navigation Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD – Mama’s home cooking is hard to replace, but the food service staff at Warrior Forge keeps Cadets well fed during their 29-day challenge.

“It’s a big process,” said Master Sgt. Stephen Och, head of food services at the Leader Development and Assessment Course.

“There is a lot of preplanning that a lot of people do before this mission even kicks off because it is such a big event. Alone there are 6,500 Cadets,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Steve Szakal, also in charge of food services throughout Warrior Forge.
Read more of this post

Mission complete

First and 2nd Regiment Cadets march onto the parade field during graduated at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

By Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – The 29 days of sweat, stress, camaraderie and leadership during the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) all boils down to one moment, graduation.

LDAC graduates have been assessed on their leadership skills on land and water courses in all conditions and earned the right to continue their goal of becoming an Army Officer. Nearly 7,000 Cadets from 14 Regiments will graduate from LDAC, which is the greatest capstone assessment in an Army Cadet’s life.

While the majority of graduates will return to their respective colleges or universities, others will immediately don the gold bars of a second lieutenant, having completed all their previous requirements.
Read more of this post

A Cadet’s home away from home

By Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash.- Living in close quarters and sharing basic essentials with a large group of people at the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) is nothing new to Cadet Parker Thompson, who is one of 18 children.

Thompson is the 9th child and the youngest of his parent’s four biological children. He has 14 adopted brothers and sisters, four being from America and 10 from Brazil.

Cadet Parker Thompson of Wheaton College is a long way from home, but finds the Army family to be similar to his life back home. He graduates from the Leader Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash on Monday, July 9th. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

“Have you ever seen the movie Cheaper by the Dozen? It’s not at all like that,” joked Thompson, explaining that his siblings were rather well behaved, “It’s not easy but there is a lot of joy that comes with it too.”

Thompson has lived in the same old farmhouse his whole life, in the 2,000-person town of Tremont, Ill.

“We have a garden and the kids play outside a lot. I grew up having a playmate at all times. I was never bored,” said Thompson, who plans on graduating from Wheaton College next fall, commissioning and then going to medical school.

Being two days and a wake-up away from graduating from Warrior Forge, Thompson said he has greatly valued his time at LDAC.

“I can’t believe how fast it’s flown by. It seems like just yesterday we were here getting our blood drawn for the first time and now we are here getting it drawn again,” said Thompson, during his last blood drawing.

“LDAC has taught me a lot about trust. Trust in your fellow Cadets, trust in God, trust in cadre, trust in your training and trust in your own intuition and your guts,” said Thompson. Read more of this post

Beating LDAC

Cadet Christopher Nash learned he could beat box in high school and hasn’t stopped since. He is days from graduating from the Leader Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

By Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash.- Cadets at the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) already have a steady battle rhythm to follow throughout their 29-day challenge, but Cadet Christopher Nash follows a rhythm of his own.

Nash, a 27-year-old active duty soldier from the University of Massachusetts, said that he found out he could make unique sounds in high school and that was just the beginning of his beat boxing career.

“In high school I had some buddies into music and found out I could make a ‘dwoom-dwoom-dwoom’ noise,” said Nash, giving a preview of his fast-paced, rave type echo.

Beat boxing is a musical art form using a person’s mouth, lips, tongue and voice to create instrumental rhythm and beats. Nash has perfected the art and can produce a beat simulating background music instantly.

Nash said he then joined a cappella groups in high school and was the beat boxer in a male a cappella group at his first college. Later, he became a member of the group D.C. Vocals in Virginia, playing shows at venues around the area.
Read more of this post

Cadets shed light on the Land Navigation Course

Sixth Regiment Cadets

Sixth Regiment Cadets plot out their course at the starting point of the night Land Nav at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

By: Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – It’s 8:30 p.m. and the Cadets of 6th Regiment get one last meal before they head out to face what some consider to be the most challenging event at the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), night land navigation. This night they get a break from MRE’s (meals ready to eat) and get a plate full of spaghetti, bread, beans, apple sauce, fruit and cake.

Once the assessment starts the crunch of boots marching on gravel and the sloshing of leather through puddles will be the only sounds heard on the Warrior Forge land navigation course; the only exceptions being the horn signaling start and finish or the roar of an occasional helicopter overhead. Cadets are focused and ready to navigate through the night.
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1st and 2nd Regiments report for LDAC

By Hannah Van Ree
U.S. Army Cadet Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Second Lt. Starlet Baker prides herself in being the first face to welcome Cadets of the 1st Regiment to the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) this year at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The few Cadets that trickled in from the 1st and 2nd Regiments around 9:30 a.m., June 11, and the first buses that arrived, signaled the beginning of Warrior Forge 2012.

Cadet Jessica Dodd, a junior from the University of Arizona, signs in to the Leader Development and Assessment Course after arriving to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. U.S. Army photo by Jesse Beals

Traveling from all over the country and some from all over the globe, U.S. Army Cadets from all different backgrounds come together at LDAC every summer to complete a crucial assessment they need before becoming second lieutenants. Cadets are flown into Sea-Tac International Airport and then bused to the base, their new home for the next month.

Cadets had a chance to bond during the flights and bus ride from the airport to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Cadet Ashlie LaFalce of 1st Regiment from State University of N.Y. College, Brockport, said that it felt like team building was already taking place.
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