Marine ROTC midshipmen hone skills during fall field exercise

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This story was written by Alexander Furman of NROTC at Iowa State University.

Seven aspiring Marine Corps officers tested their skills during a 16 hour field exercise.

“The purpose of this training is to bring together all the things that these underclassmen have learned in the classroom and apply it in the field,” Midshipman First Class Alexander Furman said. “These gentlemen are preparing to go to Officer Candidate School (OCS) soon, and we want to give them the most realistic training possible.”

Furman, along with two other Midshipmen, completed OCS last summer and are now in charge of the training.

With the sun far from rising, the motivated Marine hopefuls muster at the armory building on campus to stage their packs and prepare all their gear they will need for the day. Their packs for the day weighed approximately 40 pounds with the essentials, including MREs (“Meals, Ready to Eat”), cold weather gear, extra skivvy shirts and socks, and their training rifles.

“We can’t stress enough how important these evolutions are for these young men,” Marine Officer Instructor Captain Peter Opalacz said. “My staff and I want to ensure they are as prepared as possible for the real deal later on, so that means long and extensive training days, strenuous hikes and challenging leadership roles.”

With the shout of “Stepping!” seven Midshipmen traveled through Ames to their training area where they begin the day’s events. Upon arrival, they practiced squad formations, day and night land navigation, a general knowledge exam, and a chance for each person to lead a “mission” and achieve the objective.

These events are exhausting and arduous but each man agrees it was a confidence booster.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been pushed that hard both physically and mentally before,” Fourth Class Midshipman Bjorn Johnson said. “After going and going all day, we had to do a five mile hike and it pushed me further than I thought I could go.”

After the smoke clears and packs put away, the Midshipmen are free to go back to being a regular Cyclone. This was a small taste of what lies in store for the Marines of the Cyclone Battalion and another stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of commissioning as a Second Lieutenant.

Photos from the field exercise provided by NROTC.


About Liberal Arts and Sciences The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is a world-class learning and research community. Iowa State’s most academically diverse college, LAS educates students to become global citizens, providing rigorous academic programs in the sciences, humanities and social sciences within a supportive personalized learning environment. College faculty design new materials, unravel biological structures, care for the environment, and explore social and behavioral issues. From fundamental research to technology transfer and artistic expression, the college supports people in its community and around the world.

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Contacts Peter Opalacz, Captain, USMC, NROTC ( Jess Guess, Liberal Arts and Sciences Communications, (