On a cold Monday morning in Missoula, a fourth-year cadet took marching orders from three third-years outside ROTC headquarters in Schreiber Gym on the University of Montana campus.
Caleb Oman, 22, the fourth-year, explained. “They all have a test tomorrow. I agreed to be a subject so they can march me through the snow.”
“I was giving the commands that he was following,” said Stephanie Call, 24. “We’re practicing for our D-and-C”—drill and ceremony—“evaluation tomorrow.”
“We’re going to do it in the Schreiber Gym,” said Heather Stricker, 20. “They’ll set up cones and we’ll go through facing movements, which are just your left-face, right-face, what you see in the movies. Then we’ll march them through cones.”
“It’s kind of like marching them along the sidewalks,” said Call. “If you call [a turn] too early, they’ll be in the snow. If you call [a turn] too late, they’ll be in the street.”
The test is a lead-up to the third-years’ 32-day leadership development assessment course this summer in Fort Lewis, Wash. Evaluators—fourth-years like Oman—mark each move a ‘go’ or ‘no go.’
Discussion turned to proper dress for a commissioning ceremony next week. “I’ve got to get some rank and another insignia, damn it,” said Adam Dudack, 20, the final cadet.
The day’s ice, all agreed, was an added hazard on any march. Oman, for one, missed his first left-face. “Sometimes…I go where I need to go…instead of where I’m ordered,” he said.
“In the real world, we’d be in boots and not tennis shoes with no traction,” Call told him. “Usually, the Army is pretty good about making sure that if we’re marching, there’s no ice there. They know if they break us, they have to take care of us.”