A daring effort
USF is one of only a few universities nationwide that can boast being home to all three branches of the military, Army, Air Force and the Navy/Marines. USF is home to the Army Suncoast Battalion, the Air Force 158th Cadet Wing, and the Navy/Marine Buccaneer Battalion. With the upcoming construction of the Joint Military Sciences Center, USF will be put on the map as one of the premier military training facilities.
“We hope to use this as a tremendous marketing tool to catch the interest of incoming students, much like athletics uses the new athletic training center to recruit potentials,” said Midshipman Michael Umholtz, serving as the NROTC Battalion Commander.
Every morning around 5 a.m., 78 students who comprise the USF’s Naval Unit begin their development of mind, body and spirit.
“We are out here rain or shine. Some of the training is composed of running, sit-ups, and pull-ups, but we also do fun stuff, like dodgeball,” said Midshipman Adam Fuzi. Fuzi served last semester as the Battalion Physical Training Officer.
Midshipmen Justin Fillmon and Umholtz are college juniors who say they enjoy the everyday perks of being a college student.
“Both of us are on full scholarship from the Navy, which means not only is our education paid for, but we get a monthly stipend to spend as we wish. We also both happened to receive Bright Futures, which means that money goes directly into our pockets,” said Fillmon.
Fillmon and Umholtz were on a submarine for two weeks studying Naval Underwater Craft last fall.
The schedule is rigorous, freshmen in the program are required to log 20 study hours, eight of which must be logged in the ROTC room, as well as attend regular classes, keep up with the physical training schedule, Close Order Drill, and also several philanthropic events.
Students involved with the program can go on a wide range of trips that can be logged as summer credit hours, so everything counts for graduation.
While Umholtz is undecided on a career, Fillmon has known since the time he entered ROTC that he wanted to fly.
“I have always know that I wanted to do aviation. Not only am I gaining all of these valuable experiences throughout college, I am going to serve my country by doing my dream job,” Fillmon said. “Not many college students can say that.” Umholtz said the ROTC at USF allows its students to gain military experience while still in school.
“If you are looking to serve in the military as an officer, there is no better program to go through; we are gaining life experiences and the things we learn are unlike what any other student gets to experience,” said Umholtz.
Both cadets feel that when they graduate they will be prepared to jump right in and do their jobs, and both are very thankful for the strict training schedule.
“While most students who go after four year degrees train for eight semesters, we train the entire four -years, and we get so much more hands-on experience,” Umholtz said.
The two are also focusing on recruiting females, out of 78 students, only nine are female.
“A lot of our staff positions are filled by females,” Umholtz said, “So we want to get more interest from the females and get them excited as well.”
The Naval ROTC was established two years ago so students now have the opportunity to create traditions.
Naval ROTC will host a joint-service field meet competition between the Army, Air Force and Naval ROTC Battalions on April 23.
To find out more about the ROTC departments at USF by going to the “Our Students” section of www.usf.edu.