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Jenkins leads ROTC units on annual run

Joseph McMahon | Wednesday, September 30, 2009

While most students were still warmly asleep in their beds, members of Notre Dame’s Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine ROTC units gathered outside the Pasquerilla Center early yesterday morning to embark on an annual run with University President Fr. John Jenkins.

“It shows me that he really supports what we’re doing and what we have committed to do in the future and showing that the University as a whole is behind us,” Army ROTC Cadet Marina Rodriguez said. “The fact that he is willing to come out here early in the morning is a really strong indicator of how much he values having programs like this at the University.”

The cold, rainy conditions did not deter Jenkins from arriving promptly at 6:45 a.m. to lead all four ROTC units on a jog that lasted about a half hour.

“I think it just shows Notre Dame’s commitment to the ROTC programs. That sends a strong message when you have the president running with the cadets,” Captain Joseph Kosek, one of the Army ROTC Cadre, said.

­Jenkins and the ROTC units have not let poor weather slow them down in the past, including once running through a mild snowstorm. The annual run dates back to the tenure of University President Emeritus Fr. Edward “Monk” Malloy, according to Kosek.

Naval ROTC Battalion Commander Brad Towne said he was impressed by Jenkins’ physical fitness.

“To tell you the truth he’s a really good runner, too,” he said. “We sometimes have trouble keeping up.”

Towne said, however, the most important aspect of the run was the solidarity Jenkins showed with the ROTC members.

“The fact that he comes out here really means something,” he said. “All throughout the year the administration is really supportive of ROTC. This event just embodies that.”

When addressing the ROTC members after the run, Jenkins thanked them for their service to the country.

“I want to say how much we appreciate having you,” he said to the cadets. “Your commitment to ROTC is a service to our nation.”

Jenkins said the run carries special importance given the fact that many ROTC members will serve in a war zone at some point in their military careers.

“I always reflect on the fact that I am addressing you at a time when our nation’s in a conflict,” he said.

Jenkins said ultimately the run gives him a great opportunity to spend time with the ROTC members while doing something fun.

“It’s just a way of spending time with them and being involved in one of their activities,” he said. “It is kind of a fun activity.”