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Today@Sam Article


Cadets Flex 'Army Strength' At Leadership Development Course

Oct. 2, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
Story By: Kim Kyle Morgan

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Burling and Colton
Now-2nd Lt. Colby Burling (left) and senior ROTC cadet Colton Barber fine-tuned their leadership skills over the summer during the Leadership Development and Assessment Course. Both were recognized from among the 6,000 other cadets attending LDAC for their physical and mental accomplishments. —Photo by Brian Blalock


Colton Barber had a busy summer, but he wasn't doing the things most 21-year-old young men were. Instead of beaches, there were mountains; instead of hotels, there were camps; instead of family vacation, it was Warrior Forge.

Warrior Forge, a nickname for the Leadership Development and Assessment Course training in Fort Lewis, Wash., is one of the final steps for cadets before completing an ROTC program and entering the Army as commissioned officers.

More than 6,000 cadets attended Warrior Forge over the summer, during which they underwent an intense training schedule that incorporated the basic skills necessary to becoming an effective military leader.

Within the 13 regiments, two of SHSU’s Bearkat Battalion cadets stood out this summer, earning recognition for their physical and mental prowess.

Barber, a criminal justice major at Sam Houston State University, beat out more than 450 cadets in his LDAC regiment to earn first place in the male Army Physical Fitness Test.

Barber had two minutes to do as many pushups as possible, two minutes to do as many sit-ups as possible, and was timed for a two-mile run. He cranked out 103 pushups and 102 sit ups, and clocked in at 10:41 for his run.

He could have done better.

Developing Skills...

The compilation video above documents everything that cadets endure while completing LDAC at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. —U.S. Army, by Kim Cox

"I usually score in that range," Barber said, "but I wasn't in peak physical condition when I went."

Barber had just wrapped up three weeks at an ROTC program in the Republic of Georgia. To be clear, this is not the state of Georgia in the southeast USA; this is the Republic of Georgia—bordered to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, and to the south by Turkey and Armenia.

Barber was there for mountain warfare school.

"The food made everybody sick for the entire time," Barber said. "So going into LDAC, I wasn't in as good condition as I wish I could have been. But I still did great, and that's the main thing."

Barber grew up outside of Fort Hood. As a little boy, he found the constant stream of Army trucks exciting. His brother Clint, 20 months his junior, loved it, too.

"We wore camouflage and played with BB guns out in the woods ever since we could walk," Barber said.

Clint is currently serving with the Army as an infantry soldier in Afghanistan. Barber will be commissioned a second lieutenant when he graduates from SHSU in May 2014 and will then go through BOLC, the Basic Officer Leaders Course, before being assigned to a base.

"With where we are in the world these days, it's almost guaranteed I'll eventually go to a combat zone," Barber said. "People ask my mom how she feels about both her sons being in the Army. She says 'I knew since they were little that they would go into the Army someday, so I've had plenty of time to prepare.'"

Barber's goal is to be an infantry officer.

"I'll work my way through the ranks and see what kind of successful career I can make for myself," Barber said. "I doubt I'll get in and find I don't like it, so I'm sure I'll have a long career in the Army."

Barber and others doing physical training
Barber (above), among his regiment at LDAC, working out as part of the Army's routine physical training. Barber's PT scores earned him the "alpha" spot at LDAC (and a medal, below), taking first place for 103 pushups, 102 sit-ups and a 10:41 two-mile run during the male Army Physical Fitness Test. —Top photo courtsey of the U.S. Army, bottom photo by Brian Blalcok
Barber holding medal

Barber is taking extra steps to prepare for a successful Army career. He and his brother have been studying Russian for the last year, as mastering a foreign language is required to get into Special Forces (Green Berets).

Two years ago, Barber went to Air Assault School, one of the most physically challenging 10 days in the Army.

He's also an Eagle Scout and is SCUBA-, skydive-, and motorcycle-certified.

"I just find little niches here and there," Barber said. "I like to feel like I'm always doing something productive."

He's been productive on campus, too. Barber served as a public safety services parking and transportation officer for the SHSU Police Department in 2012 and is currently a resident hall adviser. He has also served as captain of the SHSU ROTC Rifle Team and captain of the ROTC Ranger Challenge.

"My whole life I've wanted to go into the military," Barber said. "I didn't know any different. It's where I feel comfortable. It feels like home."

Colby Burling, 24, has also found a home in the Army; in fact, he’s already a veteran, having served two tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Upon enlisting with the Army out of high school, Burling received a Ranger contract. He went straight through basic training, infantry training and airborne school, and then spent nearly three years with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

After that, Burling applied for an Army ROTC Green-to-Gold scholarship. Only 125 candidates from the entire Army get one every year, Burling said, and he was one of them.

But why go through ROTC at SHSU if you're already enlisted in the Army?

"It's a matter of becoming an officer," Burling said. "It makes me more of a leader, but at the same time, I have education behind me. I want both."

Burling is the only member of his family in the military. He thought about joining the Navy SEALs, but jokes that he "hates cold water." Ice, though, he doesn't mind. Originally from Colorado, Burling spent his high school years playing hockey.

"I was a chubby little kid when I was growing up," Burling said. "I hated being made fun of. Once I started playing hockey, the physical activity took care of the extra weight, but I also began to realize that people don't know how to take care of themselves, how to shape their body, how to eat, how to exercise. You can't do anything else in life until you're healthy. If you're not healthy, it makes things so much harder."

Burling receiving award
There is no "I" in "team"—Burling receiving his LDAC award for best representation of the Warrior Ethos: "I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade." —Photo courtsey of the U.S. Army

The once-chubby kid studied kinesiology at SHSU and is now an Army-strong man—mentally and physically.

At last summer's LDAC, Burling spent 28 days being assessed on several objectives as a leader. Approximately 10 percent of cadets, out of approximately 6,000, receive an "E for Exceeding the standard" across all categories.

Burling got an “E” and was also recognized by the LDAC cadre as the cadet in his regiment who best represented the Warrior Ethos. The secret to his success? The oft repeated phrase "there is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’"

"Cadets go into this thinking of it as competition, and they focus on innovative ways to complete everything in order to be great," Burling said. "But you're not just evaluated on that. It's who you are, in general, and how you react with your platoon. You have to be just as good a follower as you are a leader. The greatest followers make the best leaders because they understand the roles and positions of others."

After graduating from SHSU in May 2013, Burling was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army by Lt. Col. Robert McCormick, new chair of the SHSU Military Science department.

"He's a phenomenal individual. He's already done it (combat), and he wants to go back," said McCormick of Burling, who recently received active duty orders to report as an infantry officer to Fort Benning, Ga., next March.

"It's not always the idea of fighting for your country that keeps you going in the heat of the battle," Burling said. "It's the idea of fighting for the people to your left and right."

McCormick is proud of both Burling and Barber.

"I would have them as one of my platoon leaders any day, covering my left, right or rear," McCormick said. "I would share a foxhole with them."




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