Cadet Summer Training

Cadet Spotlight: Christopher Hooker

Cadet Spotlight: Christopher Hooker

By DeJanay Booth

Invincible

Approximately 49 percent of the students in the Senior Military College at Texas A&M University in College Station decided to pursue a career in the military.  And Cadet Christopher Hooker planned to join that 49 percent.

Students enrolled in the military college spend at least two years there while participating in an ROTC studies whether it is Army, Navy or Air Force.  The cadets can choose between contracting with one of the branches or return to life as a civilian.  Those who choose to be a civilian, may stay in the military college and will receive a leadership certificate.  Hooker will be a company commander in 3rd Brigade in the program.

But before committing with the Army and coming to the Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), Hooker decided to join the university’s Ranger Challenge Team at the end of his freshman year.

When Hooker first joined, the cadets on the team appeared more mature and knowledgeable.  The Ranger Challenge Team take part in training before competing in the Ranger Challenge Competition.    The cadets practiced different events such as first aid, marksmanship and land navigation.

“Learning about an opportunity where you could compete at the collegiate level through ROTC, doing these things that we enjoy doing, was very appealing to me,” he said.  “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  It was probably one of the best decisions that I have ever made.”

The cadets spent hours training for the competitions, waking up early five days a week and some weekends.  During Spring Break and Christmas, they also spent time training.  Grades remained a top priority, so it was essential for them to grasp the concept of time management.

Hooker came to Fort Knox for the Bold Leader Challenge, having doubts about winning the competition.  Surprisingly, the team came in first place in the nation, advancing to the Sandhurst Competition, a military events competition held every Spring at the U.S. Military Academy in New York.

“Once we won, it was like ‘Okay, we can do this,’” he said.

Teams from all over the country came to Sandhurst.  The Ranger Challenge Team traveled to West Point, N.Y., for the competition and came in second overall behind the British Blue Team, trailing behind by less than a one-percentage point.  An ROTC team has not won in the competition; knowing that they were close was considered to be “bittersweet.”

Upon arrival to LDAC, Hooker was more than confident about the training that laid before him.  The skills he obtained from the challenge team was useful because it was close what he was doing in Cadet Summer Training (CST).

“Almost everything that we have done here, I’ve already had hands-on experience,” Hooker said.

With the completion of LDAC on Aug. 11, he plans to return back to school and complete his senior year before commissioning as a second lieutenant.  At the university, Hooker, along with about 2,500 other cadets, lives in one of 12 dorms on campus, particularly meant for them as part of the Senior Military College.  For the future officer, it is a home away from home.

“Having done the both of them has really developed and helped me grow as an individual and a leader,” Hooker said  “I didn’t have the normal college experience, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

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