Strapped in the swiss seat, the cadet was hesitantly inching backwards to the edge of the rappel tower. “Step back, deliberately,” enunciated the Major. Highly-decorated Special Operations Army veteran Major Frank Hibbs showed no sympathy, yet he was tolerantly responsive to the cadets’ concerns. After all, many of them had never rappelled.
This was Shoot-Out 2K11ALPHA – a national training recently hosted by the Charlotte Division U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps.
The 500+ acres of land at Tom’s Creek Nursery in Farmer, North Carolina was ideally suited to host a unique set of training and operational areas, including a sniper, pistol and rifle range, a land navigation course, a shoot house, rope-bridge building and river crossing, night operations and a rappel tower.
Some 62 sea cadets, male and female, attended the training from Raleigh, Greensboro, Camp Lejeune and Charlotte divisions.
Charlotte Division USNSCC Commander Steven Vaughan says, “It gets bigger and better every year. It gave a lot of confidence to a lot of cadets; they learned to shoot, rappel, crawl on their bellies like reptiles and much more.” Vaughan is retired from the Navy. During his military career, he served on the USS Enterprise, the USS “Bonnie Dick” (CVA-31) and a Med Tour on the USS Independence.
Fifteen adults, including military members, veterans, medical personnel, ensigns and instructors volunteered their time for this four day/night training.
Bounding Down A Wood Face
“We take the ‘T’ out of CAN’T,” says Charlotte Division USNSCC Ensign Alan Koontz. The eight-year U.S. Army veteran served as a Paratrooper, Drill Sergeant and qualified Air Assault and Power Generation soldier. He was assisting the Major in teaching the cadets on how to rappel from the tower.
“They learned how to properly secure it (swiss seat) and, also, learned how to make sure they were hooked up.” While in the Army, Koontz put in a lot of training time rappelling from Blackhawk helicopters. One time, while rappelling from a Blackhawk, his rope entangled, and he possumed underneath the chopper, at about 100 feet above the ground. “Possumed” means hanging, he said. “We’re teaching them what not to do and what to do. They must LISTEN! We’ve been there.”
Camp Lejeune Sea Cadet and Master-At-Arms William Blair says, “It’s (rappelling) hard. I overcame my fears. The Major told me to ‘trust the line.’ I didn’t. The second time I tried, I did it.”
Sea Cadet Alyssa Jaramillo rappelled for the first time. The 12-year-old from the Camp Lejeune Division said, “When we were going off the edge, I was kinda scared.”
It was the first Charlotte Division Shoot-Out for 14-year-old Camp Lejeune Sea Cadet Donna Kraus. “It’s really been amazing. I get more confidence and build up my courage to go into the Marines.”
Naval Sea Cadets Begin Summer Trainings (Part Two) will follow. Naval Sea Cadets Advanced Trainings keep these young people on the learning curve edge. Many choose to follow their passion into military careers.
REPORTER’S NOTE: Send me pictures of your summer trainings. Include comments on what challenges you overcame and how it has made you more confident. Who was your role model or encourager in your summer training? How did they help you make it through? Send to: [email protected]
For more information on the national program, see http://www.seacadets.org.
For more information on the Charlotte Division, go here http://charlotteseacadets.org.