FEBRUARY 21, 2014 BY ELAINE PUGH
Nine Army ROTC cadets at the University of Mississippi made an excellent showing in the recent SEC Ranger Challenge Competition at Camp Blanding, Fla.
Competing among 48 teams from the Southeast region, the UM team placed third in the Jan. 24-26 rivalry.
The competition covered 18 miles and featured eight events, including rifle marksmanship, hand grenade assault course, land navigation, 14-mile foot march, patrol boat race, obstacle course and river crossing on a team-built rope bridge carrying personal equipment. All events were timed and graded by active duty military members.
Master Sgt. Christopher Hayes, UM military science professor and team coach, said Ranger Challenge team membership requires dedication and training beyond a cadet’s normal ROTC experience.
“I am proud of these cadets, as they trained hard leading up to this event,” he said. “They came back to school a week early, and we trained day and night. It obviously paid off, as a lot of discipline and personal courage came into play, considering the grueling competition and inclement weather.”
John Bolding of Decatur, Ala., senior cadet and team captain, said this is his fourth and favorite year to be part of Ranger Challenge.
“Ranger Challenge allows for the fittest and most motivated cadets in our ROTC program to come together as a team who push each other to the limit physically and mentally,” he said. “It allows for the older cadets, like myself, to have more of a direct impact on the younger cadets who try out, versus the impact I’m able to have during physical training or lab with the entire Rebel battalion.”
From a personal perspective, Bolding says the overall ROTC program has had a lasting impact on him and his future.
“Four years of being at physical training at 6 a.m., meeting classes all day, developing and mentoring younger cadets and enjoying the social aspect of college has taught me to be a well-rounded individual who can accomplish any task.”
Ranger Challenge team member Daniel Holloran of Franklin, Tenn. agreed.
“My ROTC participation allows me to have a structured schedule that keeps me focused on my physical fitness as well as my academics,” he said. “It also surrounds me with a group of focused and reliable friends that help keep me on the right path.”
Other members of the 2014 Ranger Challenge team are Jonathan Dotson of Knoxville, Tenn., Buckley Dowdle of Olive Branch, Chase Pinson of Crystal Springs, Nicholas Porter of Columbus, Ohio, Christopher Reeves of Taylor, Michael Resha of Birmingham, Ala., and Tiffanie Troxell of St. Cloud, Fla.
For more information about UM’s military science program, visit http://catalog.olemiss.edu/liberal-arts/military-science-leadership.