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Jenkins runs with ROTC

Nora Kenney | Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some students on campus take the call to “wake up the echoes” very seriously — or at least that’s how it seemed Wednesday when the sound of the ROTC cadets could be heard outside Rolfs Sports Recreation Center at 7 a.m.

Members of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corp, which is a component of the Navy, had just returned from their annual Tri-Military Run. University President Fr. John Jenkins and Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves joined the cadets in the 2.7-mile run around campus.

“It’s always a pleasure and a rush,” Jenkins said of the run. “It’s a great chance to remember God’s important people who have made sacrifices in our country.”

Running in the annual Tri-Military Run is a tradition for the University president, and a representative from the Navy said ROTC appreciates his support.

“We have a great relationship with Notre Dame and we’re glad Fr. Jenkins can come out with us,” said Capt. Dale Nees, a professor of Naval Science, Navy captain and senior commander.

Jenkins told ROTC cadets after the run they “speak to what Notre Dame is all about.”

“I just want to say how proud we are to have you at Notre Dame,” he said. “I want to commend you for your leadership, hard work and sacrifice.”

Midshipman Matthew Zak, a senior, said the annual run is one of the best ROTC events each year.

“Just running around the campus early, hearing the cadences, we enjoy it,” he said.

The run also gives the different units of the ROTC a chance to come together, Nees said,

“This run builds that camaraderie between the services. We’re probably just 2 to 3 percent of the student body, maybe three times the size of the football team,” he said. “The folks here are all preparing to be leaders in the military so we like running around campus all together.” 

But that doesn’t mean a little friendly competition was out of the question.

“It was just a good thing, Fr. Jenkins showing his support for the Navy and also the rest of the military,” Midshipman Neil Flattery, a freshman, said.

“There’s definitely an ‘also’ that comes before ‘the rest of the military,’ since Navy is the best.”

Freshman cadet Chris Lillie joked with Flattery, and said, “The Army is definitely better than the Navy.”

But in the end, Lillie said the run showed solidarity between branches.

“It was really amazing to see all the branches moving together and serving the military, and to see all of the other branches coming together and doing the same things you’re doing,” Lillie said.