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ND ROTC Air Force cadets honored

Matt Bramanti | Monday, September 29, 2003

While most Notre Dame students were occupied with internships, family vacations and summer service projects, many Air Force ROTC cadets spent their summers at Field Training. Typically done the summer before junior year, Field Training is an intensive four-week experience designed to develop leadership skills in cadets, who will go on to become Air Force officers.

This year, Detachment 225 – consisting of students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, Valparaiso, Indiana University-South Bend, Bethel and Holy Cross – graduated 27 cadets from the program. Field Training courses were held at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, at Tyndall AFB near Panama City, Fla. and at Ellsworth AFB in rural South Dakota.

Several Notre Dame cadets received awards based on their performance during the training program. Cadets Ann Marie Draper and Greg Conners were recognized as Distinguished Graduates, an award limited to the top 10 percent of each field training class.

Cadets Matt Crosser, Angela Gamache, Pat McMorrow and Dan Santiago were recognized as Superior Performers, representing the next 10 percent of the class.

“Field training is not fun at all, but you’re a better person coming out of it,” Crosser said.

McMorrow said the competition was tough. “There were a lot of top cadets, and it was an honor to be included among them,” he said.

Several cadets also recently received awards unrelated to field training. Cadet Wendy Kosek, a senior, was awarded to Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement. This award recognizes four rising Air Force ROTC seniors nationally for military and academic performance. Kosek said that while she appreciates the award, she didn’t set out to chase it. “It means a lot to receive an award for doing what I enjoy,” she said.

Athletic prowess also garnered awards for the detachment. Junior cadet and twin sisters Keri and Kelsi Matwick joined the elite “500 Club,” named after the maximum possible score on their Air Force Physical Fitness Test. Kelsi said the sisters’ close relationship helped their motivation.

“When we realized how close we were, we wanted to just try and get it,” she said. Keri agreed, adding “we helped each other a lot.”

Cadet Mimi Ledet was also recognized by the Society of Military Engineers as one of the top 20 Air Force ROTC engineering students in the nation.

“I was shocked … I certainly wasn’t expecting anything like that,” Ledet said. She added that she hopes the award will help motivate younger cadets. “I feel like I have to set an example for the underclassmen,” she said. “It sets the bar even higher.”