by SPC Joseph St. Peter
FORT DIX, N.J. � Many of America�s best and brightest young people are behind the fast-paced development of the computer world today, and many of these same minds are the Army�s future leaders. One such example is Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadet Jamie Delco of Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Delco, who is studying software development as a graduate student of computer science at Fordham University in Bronx, N.Y., is also preparing himself to be one of the Army�s best and brightest. Delco is a member of the New York National Guard�s Company C, 230th Signal Battalion, of Orangeburg, N.Y. The unit�s annual training here supported Exercise Grecian Firebolt.
Delco, 27, is a member of a unique Army officer-commissioning program called the Simultaneous Membership Program that allows ROTC cadets to also be members of the Army Reserve or National Guard. This program enables cadets to gain more experience and responsibility as they prepare to receive their commissions as U.S. Army officers. Upon graduation from the ROTC program next year, Delco will receive his commission and will begin his military career as a second lieutenant.
Delco, an avid runner and triathlete, began his military connection last year when he attended the ROTC Leadership Training Camp at Fort Knox, Ky. This five-week course covered basic military skills such as drill and ceremony, basic rifle marksmanship and land navigation. Following leadership camp, Delco went to Fort Benning, Ga., for U.S. Army Airborne School.
�It was absolutely amazing. It was such a great experience to be in a serious training environment,� said Delco. �It pushed me to the limits of what I thought I could do.�
Delco�s ROTC commitment during the school year involves physical training, classroom training and a weekly laboratory. Also involved in his training are several mandatory field-training exercises on weekends throughout the school year. His National Guard commitment is one weekend per month and one two-week training period per year. This schedule, in addition to his regular course work at Fordham, keeps Delco on his toes.
�You definitely have to spend time studying, especially during your third year. It�s probably the most demanding as far as book smarts goes,� explained Delco.
His role away from school and ROTC and in the field with the National Guard allows him the advantage of shadowing a second lieutenant while being slowly integrated into the unit-leadership structure.
�I�m here to learn, I�m here as an observer. It allows me to see how the unit really works,� said Delco. �Some days I get to act as a second lieutenant and be with the platoon. Some days I get to follow the company commander around and go to battalion briefings. You really get a shot at seeing the bigger picture.�
Not only does Delco gain valuable benefits from his SMP experience, so does Charlie Company.
According to CPT Frank Letizia, Company C�s commander, Delco is an asset, even at this early stage of his career.
�Even though he�s at such a junior level, he�s put in the line of fire. We let him plan and do briefings. We try to coordinate him in with tactical-operations center operation � anything that will help his career when he becomes a lieutenant,� said Letizia. �Delco is one of our shining stars, and we look forward to him joining the unit.�
Army ROTC cadet Jamie Delco (right) explains a mission to SPC Osvaldo Juarez. The two are members of Company C, 230th Signal Battalion, New York National Guard. They are at Fort Dix, N.J., participating in the Army Reserve/Army National Guard exercise Grecian Firebolt. Companies B and C of 230th Signal Battalion are based in New York, while Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 230th Signal Battalion, is located in Humboldt, Tenn.
Even in his role as an observer, the value of participating in Grecian Firebolt at Fort Dix isn�t lost on Delco. The exercise is a real-world mission 230th Signal Battalion could face if deployed.
�It�s exciting to be a part of this exercise. It�s a great opportunity to put everything together, to see how our company fits into the larger Signal mission,� said Delco. �We�ll get to bring actual Internet service out to the field to quartermaster and transportation units we�re supporting.�
The type of technical expertise gained from this exercise is exactly the reason Delco chose to enhance his civilian and military career in the SMP.
�This experience will make me more marketable to future employers. A lot of the technologies we study in the civilian world are employed here on the military side,� said Delco.
Not only does Delco receive valuable experience as an SMP cadet, he gets paid as well. He receives pay for attending drills, tuition assistance and a monthly spending stipend as well. When asked how he�s getting through graduate school financially, Delco replied with a smile, �ROTC sent me to graduate school.�
Benefits like these, as well as the opportunity to attend and take part in exercises like Grecian Firebolt while still an ROTC cadet, are great assets to Delco as he prepares to assume a leadership role in the Army. The SMP and Grecian Firebolt specifically, are in Delco�s eyes, ��one of the best things I can do for my future career.�
SPC St. Peter writes for 318th Public Affairs Operation Center, Chicago, Ill.
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