Story by Ana Henderson on 08/15/2019While most college students are enjoying the summer at a sunny beach location, two Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cadets spent their summer in the sunny desert in Yuma. The ROTC cadets interned at Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) as part of the officer's training course.
While Cadets Christian Smith and Patrick Hernandez are majoring in different subjects and attending different universities they both had the opportunity to spend three weeks together at YPG experiencing things they might never get to do again, "It's been a lot more than what I expected" said Hernandez.
Hernandez is a student at Louisiana Tech University he's studying mechanical engineering and hopes to get into a branch of the Corp of Engineers. He interned with the Metrology and Simulation Division.
Cadet Smith spent his time interning with the Instrumentation Division engineering support branch, working on GIS systems, mapping technology and transferring data from the field into software to get a 3D visualization. The training corresponds with his civil engineering curriculum at the University of Toledo in Ohio.
As part of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, the cadets attend a regular four-year university to receive a bachelors, once they graduate with their degree the cadets will commission into the ARMY as second lieutenants.
During their time at YPG the cadets had the opportunity to get an in depth look at YPG and Yuma Test Center's (YTC) operations.
Hernandez explains, "It was my first or second day here and we got in a truck and toured all the different testing sites. I was pretty amazed by that because you get to see what all this equipment goes through, literally the extremes of testing, before it comes back to the soldier. It adds confidence in the equipment you are using and pretty amazing to see."
Some of the eye-opening experiences included a range tour via a Blackhawk helicopter. During the flyover the cadets received a bird's eye view of the various gun positions and training vehicle courses. The following week the cadets traveled one of those courses, the Patton Hilly courses in a tank. The YPG police department took the cadets to the firing range and they also visited a mortar test site where they pull the lanyard to fire the mortar, and performed physical training with the Airborne Test Force Soldiers.
"The coolest thing was being able to shoot off a paladin" said Smith.
This is the third college summer the cadets have spent their time full-filling their ROTC requirements. Prior to arriving at YPG the cadets attended the advanced training for cadet summer training at Fort Knox. After this summer they will return to school with a wealth of new experiences,
"Before this I didn't know about ATEC and how everything is tested before being fielded. At first it's like drinking from a water hose trying to take in all the information about stuff you never learned about in your classes" said Smith.
"Without this program we probably would have gone our whole career without knowing this (YPG and YTC) existed. Even if I did know it existed I wouldn't know near the scale of the testing and operations here. So I grateful we got to experience this" echoed Hernandez.