UT’s Army ROTC and Tennessee Army National Guard brought two Tennessee Air National Guard Black Hawk helicopters to campus on Thursday. The event gave faculty and staff an opportunity to learn about both programs, and how they impact the campus community.
The helicopters took off and landed at Haslam Field, just outside the Anderson Training Complex.
Sergeant First Class Wes Samsel is a UT military science instructor and serves as a liaison to the National Guard. He oversees the program that allows Army ROTC cadets to be simultaneously enrolled in the National Guard.
“We brought the helicopters to campus last year and the event was well received, so we wanted to do it again this year,” Samsel said. “It’s nice to bring people out and show them what our ROTC and National Guard cadets do. We enjoy a strong relationship with UT and appreciate faculty and staff who support our programs and our students.”
Offering an up-close look at the Black Hawk helicopters “is also a fun way to give back to the faculty and staff for their support,” Samsel said.
This academic year, there were about 150 Army ROTC cadets at UT. While some of them are graduating this week, another 55 cadets are expected to start classes in the fall.
Samsel said about 15 percent of UT’s ROTC cadets are also involved in the National Guard. Some do it for the added financial benefits to help pay for college; all do it for the experience.
Like all National Guard participants, the cadets train for one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. The cadets are assigned to shadow National Guard lieutenants to see what platoon leaders do.