Third-year Pittsburg State University Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet Jacob Jasperson peers out of an M1A2 Abrams Tank belonging to the Kansas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 635th Armor Regiment during a visit to Fort Riley Jan. 7. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Margaret Ziffer, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Pitt State cadets explore Kansas National Guard career opportunities

By Maj. Margaret Ziffer
105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT RILEY, Kan. – Cadets from Pittsburg State University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps travelled to Fort Riley Jan. 7 to explore potential career opportunities with the help of the Kansas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 635th Armor Regiment.

Cadets from Pittsburg State University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps listen to a Soldier from the Kansas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 635th Armor Regiment talk about the M1A2 Abrams Tank during a visit to Fort Riley Jan. 7. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Margaret Ziffer, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

The cadets will be graduating as commissioned officers into the active-duty Army or the National Guard within the next few years and will need to be able to make informed decisions about what career path they want to pursue.

“We are constantly trying to strengthen relationships,” said 1st Lt. William Burwell, battalion training officer for the 1- 635th. “We have a good relationship with all the ROTC programs around the state, and we provide different forms of support for their training.

“Ultimately, we hope this visit gets them interested in joining our battalion, but we also want to be informative,” Burwell said. “Some of the things the cadets are taught in classroom settings can’t do the same justice as seeing it in person. Here, we get to show them firsthand what we do.”

While on their visit, the cadets saw the Douthit Digital Multi-purpose Range Complex where they viewed section and platoon tank gunnery. They also toured static display stations, including the M1A2 Abrams Battle Tank, M2A3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle and an ammo point, where they were able to talk to guard Soldiers about their equipment and daily duties. The tour concluded with a trip to mortar firing points.

“It’s about really understanding what the different branches do,” said Lt. Col. Charles Costello, professor of military science at the Pittsburg State ROTC program. “It’s one thing to look on a website, but it’s another thing to see it in action, and to see how the different branches interact and support each other.

“I hope the students take away an appreciation for what the different branches have to offer and for the hard work that Soldiers and NCOs do on the ground to execute and all the training that’s involved in order to conduct the mission,” Costello said.

Soldiers of the Kansas Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 635th Armor Regiment demonstrate a mortar mission for Pittsburg State University ROTC cadets during their visit to Fort Riley Jan. 7. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Margaret Ziffer, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Cadet Jacob Jasperson, a third-year cadet and business administration major at Pitt State, said the visit was eye-opening and that he is grateful for the opportunities the ROTC program has afforded him.

“It’s a really great program,” said Jasperson. “I’ve done a lot more through ROTC than I ever dreamed of.”

Jasperson hoped to commission as an active duty armor or aviation officer upon graduation.