As I reflect on my life, I often ask what past experiences shaped me. I hope to share these past experiences with my children and other family members, giving them insights on what to expect in their life. Some experiences are good and others are bad. Specifically, I recall the experience of Cadet Summer Training during the hot August days in Blacksburg. As I look back at my 30-year career journey, I can’t help but think about being a cadet at Virginia Tech (VT). These experiences as a VT Cadet taught me many things. One important thing is to believe in myself.
It was a hot summer morning in Blacksburg. There was no air condition in the old military dormitories sitting a top of a small hill on the Virginia Tech campus. You can hear the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets (VTCC) yelled out commands as they stand in formation to raise the flag. After the formation, the cadets march to the dining hall for breakfast. This meal will be the fuel that they will need for a long day of summer training.
Each year the VTCC prepares for summer training to receive their incoming Cadet Freshmen. Cadet Upperclassmen arrive weeks earlier to prepare guidelines, dormitories, and equipment for the incoming freshmen. Cadet Freshmen are affectionately called “Rats” because they must walk the dormitory hallways squaring corners. They quickly learn to scurry away like rats in the hall so they won’t be stopped by Cadet Upperclassmen. If the Cadet Freshmen are stopped, it is never fun for them, but loads of fun for the older cadets who look for uniform errors or test the freshman cadets on VTCC need to know facts.
Company Training Officer Team
In the summer of 1991, I was a Cadet Captain and the Executive Officer of the Foxtrot Company under the Second Battalion of the VTCC Regiment . In addition, I was a Company Training Officer (CTO) and had the responsibility of education and training over 50 incoming Cadet Freshman for two to three weeks before they started their freshman year of college at Virginia Tech. Beside uniforms, matching, and VTCC history, Cadet Freshmen had to be physically fit. I my Cadet Upperclassmen and I formed a CTO Team and were training future servant leaders, who would eventually be defending and protecting our nation. The Cadet Freshmen learned to do push ups and sit ups. We especially like to lead the Cadet Freshman on formation runs around beautiful campus of Virginia Tech.
Run Cadet Run
On the first morning of summer training, the CTO Team took their Cadet Freshman and on a grueling formation run around campus. At the end of the run, I was informed some of the freshmen cadets did not finish the formation run. They were not physically fit for summer training. The following morning the CTO Team started the formation run as usual. As a few freshmen started falling back and out of formation, the CTO Team informed me. At that point, I turn to my CTO Sergeant, the highest ranking upperclassmen, and said “you got lead”. Then I broke out of formation and began to run back to the end of the formation . The CTO Sergeant began to lead the formation run while I cheered on the freshmen that were falling behind. As I circled the whole formation, I yelled “Run Cadet Run, you got this”. By the end of the week, there was only one freshmen, Cadet Joe, who was not finishing the run. The CTO Team continued to cheer Cadet Joe into the next week of formation runs. They believed in Joe and knew he could do it. By the last morning of summer training, Cadet Joe finished the entire formation run.
Believe in Yourself
The lesson learned from this story is sometimes you need others to believe in you before you “Believe in Yourself”. Cadet Joe needed the words of positivity and feeling of “you got this” from the CTO Team. After this life experience with Cadet Joe, I realized training and education of leaders, managers, and teammates would be my life long passion. I continue to look for opportunities to share my life experiences, stories, and lessons learned to help others to live their best life now.
Ben Dichoso Jr.
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