Predawn Physical Conditioning Planned to Celebrate ROTC Centennial

ROTC Centennial
Junior ROTC cadet James Davis of Spring Lake (left) and junior Joshua Smith of Big Rapids (with flag) are members of the Reserve Officers Training Corps at Ferris State University. Monday, April 29, the cadets and their instructors will celebrate their 100th anniversary on campus.

The centennial celebration of Ferris State University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps on Monday, April 29 will serve as a test of discipline and endurance for the cadets and instructors who take part.

Military Science instructor Erna Jablonski said to commemorate the 250 men in four platoons who were led by Ferris Institute’s First Lieutenant Charles Vandervort, in April 1919, there will be a 6 a.m. physical training event in the Student Recreation Center.

“We will be doing 100 push-ups, 100 air squats, 100 flutter kicks and 100 dips,” Jablonski said. “If there is time, we will work on other exercises and perform 100 repetitions of each.”

Jablonski said there are 36 cadets in Ferris’ ROTC program this year, four of whom will graduate this spring and become second lieutenants with commissions for their particular military commitment.

“Caleb Mergener, of Portage, will be staying close to campus, as he has been accepted into Ferris’ Michigan College of Optometry,” Jablonski said. “His active duty will begin in 2022 with the Military Service Corps when he graduates from MCO. Joel VanderMolen, of Allendale, will join the Michigan National Guard, serving in the 3rd Battalion of the 126th Infantry Regiment, based in Dowagiac, Michigan. Maxwell Cuper, of Boyne City, will apply his Criminal Justice degree as a member of the 287th Military Police Company at Fort Riley, Kansas. Their stories embody the qualities and dedication found in each of our new officers.”

ROTC juniors and seniors toured Gettysburg National Military Park, earlier in April. Cadet Andrew Smolinski, a junior from Ludington in Manufacturing Engineering Technology, was among those on participating in the Staff Ride that helped those attending to complete a commissioning requirement.

“Central Michigan University history professor Jay Martin offered a walking tour to provide details on the three-day battle there after the cadets completed a five-mile run through monuments in the southern end of the battlefield,” Smolinski said. “It allowed our cadets to embody and explore the roles of officers on both the Confederate and Union sides.”

Jablonski said seven cadets went to the University of Indiana to pursue their German Air Force Proficiency Badges, a revered designation for those in the military who can meet the physical and first aid skills that are required. Ferris ROTC cadets have also had two training sessions during the Spring 2019 semester at Fort Custer near Battle Creek, including a joint military training exercise with cadets from Michigan State and Central Michigan universities.

The Ferris Institute ROTC Class of 1919 was heralded for their response to the Mercy Hospital fire that proved to be a devastating event for the Big Rapids area. Jablonski said the university’s ROTC program has been steadfast in its goals to recruit, train and commission leaders of character for the Total Army.