Basehor cadet tests limits at ROTC camp
Fort Lewis, Wash. For the son of a Basehor couple, the excerpts from a popular Edgar Guest poem focusing on handling adversity took on a personal meaning:
"When you're up against trouble, meet it squarely face to face ... You may fail, but fall still fighting; don't give up, whate'er you do; eyes front, head high to the finish, see it through!"
Army ROTC Cadet Kristofer Johnson, son of Timothy H. and Linda K. Johnson of Basehor, spent more than a month testing his limits physically, mentally and emotionally during the Army ROTC Advanced Leadership Camp.
Johnson was one of more than 5,000 ROTC cadets from throughout the nation who attended the leadership course on the road to becoming a second lieutenant. Cadets were forced to use a combination of wits, common sense, intelligence and basic instinct to overcome a series of challenges.
"This course is teaching me the basic fundamentals of leadership through training events and by leading others through real-life scenarios in order for me to develop as a leader," said Johnson, who graduated in 2004 from Basehor-Linwood High School and 2006 from Kansas City Kansas Community College. "It has also forced me to dig deep and search for the skills, ideas and values that will help me as a future leader of the sons and daughters of America."
The road to the coveted gold bar was much more than simply passing a written test. Much of their time was spent in the field learning land navigation, traversing obstacles courses, responding to chemical attacks and learning basic marksmanship.
The cadets were put in a variety of leadership positions and situations that simulated combat experience. There was even a challenging water course where cadets were required to swim 15 meters with their equipment, climb a 17-foot ladder and, while blindfolded, step off of a three-meter platform while holding their M-16 rifle.
"The amount of effort I have had to put into this course has been great," Johnson said. "I haven't gotten a lot of sleep, and the long days of hard work have been tiring but not anything I haven't been able to handle. I felt prepared when I arrived here and feel that I have been very successful in accomplishing everything that I have been asked to do."
For Johnson and his fellow cadets, the leadership course was a defining moment that helped them face their fears, develop strong friendships and put them on the path to becoming strong, effective leaders.
"This training has allowed me to make and learn from the mistakes that I have made here," Johnson said. "It is allowing me to develop my leadership attributes so that I will be able to effectively lead my soldiers when I am called upon in the future."
With the foundation set to help these cadets launch their time in the Army, whether it is part-time in the National Guard or Reserve, or as an active duty officer, each cadet leaves here with a particular goal in mind.
"After I graduate from the University of Kansas, where I am majoring in political science, I plan on serving at least my basic contract of four years on active duty," Johnson said. "I am not sure what I will do after that. I may consider serving in the National Guard or the Reserves in order to keep the Army a part of my life."