For the first time in the program’s history, the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Army ROTC “Rattler Battalion” took first place in the Ranger Challenge Competition at Fort Benning, Ga.
Cadets from 42 schools throughout Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana competed in the competition over a three-day period. FAMU was classified in the gold tier, where the Rattlers emerged victorious over teams from the University of Florida, which finished second, followed by Tulane University. Each team was comprised of 10 to 11 students for competition.
Sgt. Maj. Julio Baez of the Army Cadet Command’s Sixth Brigade, FAMU’s headquarters command, said the achievement is a significant one for the university program.
“For a team that never won before, it is a very motivational tool, it’s bragging rights,” Baez said.
A few of the graded events the cadets participated in included a physical fitness test, obstacles courses, marksmanship training and night land navigation.
Cadet Cory Bazemore, a third year electronical engineering technology student from Fayetteville, N.C. and FAMU team captain, said all of the hard work and preparation of the team
“To see the excitement on my teammates faces was priceless,” Bazemore said. “I knew we had the physical ability and the mental capacity. It was just about staying focused.”
Master Sgt. Thomas Myers, a member of the FAMU ROTC cadre, said he is proud of the way the cadets performed especially with the responsibilities they all must maintain as students.
“Not only are they training for this event, but, in addition to that, they have to do their normal studies and many of them work part-time jobs. I’m incredibly impressed with each one of them,” Myers said.
LT. Col. Jeffrey Williams, FAMU ROTC Battalion Commander, said the first place finish speaks volumes on the character and commitment of the cadets and what he is trying to accomplish with the program.
“I am so proud of their hard work,” Williams said. “When young men and young ladies look for prospects of programs that they can attend to receive commissions in the U.S. Army, they look for the best programs, and this is another step in making us the best program in the country.”
Overall, Bazemore hopes the win will enlighten cadets at other institutions of the high quality ROTC programs housed at institutions such as FAMU and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“Competing against the larger schools gave us motivation. Hopefully it will encourage other HBCU’s to step out and continue to work hard and strive for the best, he said.
The Annual Ranger Challenge competition is widely considered a valuable training tool for the enhancement of skills ROTC cadets acquire through years of intense training. Upon their college graduation, cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.