Written by: CDT Kenneth Dixon III, MSIII
My name is Kenneth Dixon, and I’m a proud cadet of the UNF Army ROTC Osprey Battalion. There is only a year and a half separating me from joining the Army National Guard as a Second Lieutenant. My journey started in 2008 in Gainesville, FL, at a community college after I quit halfway through an automotive technician AS program. I looked at my life and decided I couldn’t motivate myself to go to school unless I had something extraordinary waiting for me on the other side of all the boring classes and long nights of studying. Looking back, it’s clear that I wouldn’t have made much of myself had I not joined the military, given the way my life was going at the time. The Army has taught me a new and constructive way of thinking, given me a positive outlook on life and a place where I feel I belong; so long as I am around other soldiers, I am home.
It was a new way to live.
To become an Army officer is a very demanding and rigorous pursuit, requiring a soldier and student who is capable of dealing with stress, able to manage deadlines and possesses effective communicative abilities that rivals the most well-organized private corporation businessman. We are required to be a soldier at all times as well as a full-time college student. Our uniforms must be impeccable and inspected, our marching has to be perfect and our GPA’s must remain above a 3.0.
There is no time off.
Unless you are driving around campus very early, you will more than likely not see us doing our physical training sessions at least three times a week near the tennis courts at 5:40 a.m. Our PT sessions consist of demanding physical conditioning that is designed to cut away the fat from our bodies and cut away the unneeded and unmotivated cadets from our program’s ranks. In this day of large national deficits and little government funding, we have no room for those who want to be soldiers but are not willing to try their hardest to meet physical standards. We use our time during physical exercise to weed out those that shouldn’t be with us and strengthen those of us that should.
There is no “good enough.”
You probably will not see us much on Tuesdays or Thursdays either, as we are more than likely in the woods behind the UNF baseball field. During our two-hour lab and three-hour class, we are taught the specifics of leading troops through terrain, how to react to enemy fire, movement of distances over kilometers with just a map and compass, how to treat wounds and get injured soldiers to safety and other tasks which are critical to understand before becoming a leader worth following.
But we are here.
You will see us proudly standing and assisting in any way possible at Track and Field events, baseball games or basketball games. The Osprey Battalion Color Guard is present whenever we are given the opportunity to show the pride of our country and university.
Our lifestyles can be characterized by the Army’s Warrior Ethos, which is the code that we, as soldiers, live by.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.