Stillwater News Press

Health & Environment

August 1, 2009

Life change

• OSU student credits ROTC with giving him a direction for life

When Darren Vargas Jr. entered Oklahoma State University, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with his life. He describes his freshman self as overweight and unmotivated.

At the end of his freshman year, still not having a clear path for his life, he said, he considered a long-standing desire to join the military and “thought I’d just go enlist.” Then he heard about Army ROTC, and his life changed.

Now, going into his senior year, he’s looking ahead to life after college and even life after the Army as he decides where he might want to go in the Army. His recent performance at the ROTC Leadership Development Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington, means he’s almost guaranteed to get his pick.

Cadet Vargas finished the 29-day pre-commissioning course 11th out of 500 ROTC cadets from across the country. The course begins with individual tasks, physical fitness, land navigation, field craft and an obstacle course.

In physical fitness, Vargas scored 250 points out of a possible 300 by doing 54 push-ups in two minutes and 71 sit-ups in two minutes and running two miles in 14 minutes and 24 seconds.

Then he learned how to make a shelter with his poncho and protect himself from cold and bugs at night and completed both a day and night land navigation course with a map, a compass and a protractor.

“You get a map, they give you grid coordinates, and you have to find points,” he explained. “You plot grid coordinates on the map you’re given and use a protractor to find distance and direction to the points.”

In the team phase of the course, each cadet leads a squad to complete a particular task. Vargas’ task was to rescue a downed pilot on the other side of a ravine with only a one-rope bridge crossing it.

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