Cadets committed to service during war

Katherine Colucy

Jason Stumpf, junior industrial technology major, takes attendance before beginning yesterday’s lab at ROTC. Stumpf was the first squad leader, which rotates every week, and monitored a first-aid training lab.

Credit: Ben Breier

Joining the military during a time of war may seem crazy to some people, but many cadets in the Army ROTC feel there is no greater form of service.

Senior justice studies major Ben Mackley, who is in the Army ROTC and the Ohio National Guard, said joining the military, especially during a war, is not for everyone.

“It’s something you have to try out for yourself,” Mackley said. “I do it because I’m proud of it. I would like to be able to say that I served my country when we were at war. Not for the glory of it, but just to say I served my country when they needed me.”

Mackley said he got the idea to join the ROTC from his father, and then decided to join the National Guard so he didn’t have to do active duty when he graduates.

“My wife didn’t want me to do active duty because she wanted to go to law school, and she didn’t want to move,” Mackley said. “The National Guard is getting deployed a lot, so I figured I would still be able to get deployed.”

Mackley said he was never afraid to be deployed but has thought about it a lot more since he will be graduating in December.

“I’m not scared to go, and it’s not something I don’t want to do,” Mackley said. “I actually feel like it is something I need to do.”

Junior industrial technology major Jason Stumpf said he had several reasons to join the Army ROTC.

“I’m the oldest of four, so my tuition was kind of on me,” Stumpf said. “So I made the decision to join for the experience and to take care of putting me through school.”

“It’s always been a goal of mine to have service under my belt,” Stumpf said. “I’ve always been doing Army stuff in the backyard with my buddies or playing with G.I. Joes. I’d hear stories from my great uncles about the Army, and I’d read up on it.”

Stumpf said the main reason he decided to go to college instead of just joining the Army after high school was a pact he make with his mother.

“She wanted to make sure that if something were to happen, and I would get discharged, I would have a degree to fall back on,” Stumpf said.

He said he is not eager to be sent to Iraq but is ready to go if he has to.

“If I get sent over there, it would be a perk to lead people in combat,” Stumpf said. “All the training I’ll have will finally be put to the test.”

Stumpf said it is hard to tell how he might react to living in a combat situation, but he will take it one day at a time and do what he has been trained to do.  

“I’ve been asked if I’m worried about going over and I tell them I am worried, but I’m doing this because everyone should give a little service back to the country, and this is the way I’m doing it,” Stumpf said.

Stumpf said the only downside of joining the military for him is the uncertainty it brings for his future.

“Some of the cadets and I sit around, and we always wonder how long we are going to be in Iraq,” Stumpf said. “We wonder if we are going to make it over there. I kind of want to plan my life a little bit. After I graduate, am I going to be heading off (to Iraq), or am I going to be looking for a house and getting married?”

Mackley said the hardest part about being in the Army for him is knowing he will have to leave his wife.

Maj. Joe Paydock, admissions officer for the Army ROTC, said although the country is at war, the number of students joining the Army ROTC has remained relatively constant. He said the reason may be because many of the students that are joining are more serious about the Army. Many of them have always wanted to be Army officers and are going to join the ROTC no matter what.

“They realize the circumstances we are asking them to join,” Paydock said. “The nation is at war, and students could find themselves at war soon after they graduate. There is a realization from the students that there is a job to be done and someone has to do it.”

Contact ROTC reporter Katherine Colucy at [email protected].