ROTC cadets Michael Keller (left) from the University of Florida and Cody Dangler from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, familiarize themselves with the cockpit of an Apache helicopter during summer Cadet Troop Leadership Training with the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, July 13, 2017.

Jason Douglas | Herald

FORT HOOD — Army ROTC cadets are spending this summer training with the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade as part of the Cadet Troop Leadership Training program.

The training places third-year ROTC cadets in active-duty units in platoon leader positions for three to four weeks to develop and familiarize them in daily operations before being commissioned as second lieutenants.

The 1st Cavalry Division is providing support to the United States Military Academy and ROTC cadets from May 29 to July 30, through three rotations.

“During the three 2017 cycles, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade is sponsoring a total of 18 cadets,” said 1st Lt. Jena E. Brown, with the brigade public affairs office. “Currently, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade is on the third cycle of cadets.”

Brown said four cadets are training with the 7th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment and three cadets are training with the 615th Aviation Support Battalion. The cadets shadow platoon leaders who serve as mentors during their training.

Cadet Michael Keller from the University of Florida and Cadet Cody Dangler from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, are in their fourth year of ROTC and are participating in the current rotation.

“It’s teaching us what it’s like to be an officer in an actual active-duty unit,” Keller said.

Keller said the selection process to attend the training was based on a cadet’s class ranking, physical fitness score, and an overall evaluation by the ROTC professor of military science.

Keller hopes to be commissioned as an infantry officer and has been paired with 1st Lt. Abe Ratliff, an Apache helicopter pilot and platoon leader with 7th Squadron.

“The program is meant to take these cadets who aren’t going to have a lot of active-duty experience during their time at ROTC and teach them what it means to be a platoon leader and what it’s going to be like when they get to their first unit,” Ratliff said.

Dangler hopes to fly helicopters so training with the Air Cavalry Brigade is providing additional insight into what he can expect.

“I want to fly Apaches so I think this is a really good fit for me,” Dangler said.

Dangler said his sponsor, 1st Lt. Cody Garrett, also an Apache pilot and platoon leader in 7th Squadron, has been familiarizing him with the aircraft equipment, flight controls and the day-to-day operations of a platoon leader.

“I like to use this (training) almost as an expectation management, what can you actually expect when you get to this unit and what it’s really like to be a platoon leader,” Garrett said. “When you go into aviation, you’re going to be a helicopter pilot and do all this cool stuff, but there’s a lot of stuff as a commissioned officer that you do behind the scenes that is not as glamorous.”

The cadets with the support battalion are shadowing quartermaster and signal corps platoon leaders, Brown said. Each battalion in the brigade has been assigned multiple cadets throughout the summer.

Brown said the training is only during the summer months and occurs every summer, but the number of cadets each unit is assigned can vary.

jdouglas@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7553

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