Staff Ride

March 28-30

Cadets lined up in front of a historical building in Minnesota at the Sioux Uprising in 1862

A staff ride is a historical study of a campaign or battle that envisions a systematic preliminary study phase, an extensive field study phase on the actual historic site, and an integration phase to capture the lessons derived from each. This allows cadets to participate and gain a deeper understanding of battles throughout history and learn from them 

This spring’s Staff Ride the MSIV class of cadets traveled to Minnesota to learn about the Sioux Uprising in 1862 across the Lower and Upper Agency of Minnesota. In preparation for this, the cadets were to read and study some of the key events and notable people involved in the conflict and in doing this begin to gain a deeper understanding of how and why the events turned out the way they did. A great and eye-opening experience for cadets as this type of research opens their eyes to how decisions as leaders are crucial in the course of the battle. The cadets traveled to key battlefield sites in order to get a bigger picture and realistic understanding of what it would’ve looked like when the events were occurring at the time. 

Along with traveling to different battlefield sites and develop our military understanding, the cadets were also able to travel to some of the Army Corps of Engineer locations throughout Minnesota to get some professional development. As many of our cadets are engineering majors this was a great opportunity for them to see what the Army Corps of Engineers offers especially as the cadets begin to get closer to that commission date. 

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Clyde K. Lawrence

Clyde K. “Larry” Lawrence, Lieutenant Colonel USA Ret., 96, passed away Monday, April 22, 2019 at Portage Pointe in Hancock. 

Clyde Lawrence with cadets.

He was born June 17, 1922 in Louisville, KY, the second son of William and Mary Lawrence. After graduating from Thornton Fractional High School, Calumet City, Illinois in 1940, he enrolled in the engineering college at the University of Illinois. As a member of the enlisted reserve while in college, he was called to active duty in early 1943. Basic training and further training at Princeton University (Army Specialized Training Program) were followed by a six-month tour of duty in the Pacific theatre of operations. Returning to the States, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Army Corps of Engineers in early 1945. Serving in the Army on extended active duty (except for a 3-year hiatus working as a civilian construction engineer in Germany) for 30 years. His foreign service included tours in Germany, France, Korea, Guatemala, and Vietnam. Military schooling included parachute qualification (master parachutist with 135 jumps), Engineer Officer advanced course, the Army Language School (Spanish) and Command of the General Staff College. Numbered among his decorations are the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. He also earned a BS degree at Austin Peay State University and an MBA at Roosevelt University. Home on a short leave, he married his high school sweetheart Betty Jane Railey on July 2, 1943 in Hammond, Indiana. She was his loving and devoted wife for over 58 years. His terminal tour of military duty was served at Michigan Technological University as department head of Army ROTC and Professor of Military Service. He retired in Houghton where he was a past president of the Houghton County Chapter of the American Red Cross and was a member since 1965 and a past president of the Houghton Rotary Club. In 1972, he was employed by Homestake Copper Company in Calumet, MI as Director of Public Relations and Environmental Affairs until mining operations ceased in 1975. 

Our Battalion leadership was able to visit him this spring at Portage Health before his passing. 

LTC (Ret.) Lawrence is the only Professor of Military Science to hold that position twice here at Michigan Tech. He was the PMS from 1965-1968 and then after serving time during Vietnam, he came back to serve as the PMS from 1971-1974. An Engineer Officer, he was dedicated to developing the highest caliber of future officers for the Army here at Michigan Tech. We thank him and all our past leaders for their commitment and dedication to bettering this organization and the Army as a whole. 

Battalion APFT

Cadets lined up doing pushups with commanders kneeing in front of them in the SDC multipurpose room.

The APFT represents the Army Physical Fitness Test. It is comprised of 2 minutes of push-ups, 2 minutes of sit-ups, and a 2-mile run. Army cadets may receive up to 100 points in each event, the quantity determined by the Army Physical Fitness standards. The proper push-up form requires your body to form a straight line from shoulders to ankles, and lowering your entire body until your upper arms are at least parallel to the ground.
Removing a hand or foot from the ground is not allowed. Proper sit-up form requires you to lower your body until the bottom of your shoulder blades touches the ground. Cadets must not bounce off the ground, allow his or her feet to break contact with the ground, or remove hands from the back of his or her head. For the 2-mile run, MTU army cadets ran 16 laps around the SDC 200-meter track. MSI’s and MSII’s looking to contract were graded by cadre members, while the rest of the MSI’s, MSII’s, and MSIII’s were graded by the MSIV’s.
The minimum score required by the Army is 60 in each event or a total of 180.
The APFT is very important in MTU Army ROTC. A cadet’s APFT score is taken into account when applying for competitive training opportunities like Ranger Challenge, CULP, Airborne, and Air Assault. It also counts for a large chunk of your accessions during your MSIII year, as you prepare to submit your packet.

Spring Leadership Labs

It used to be that when cadets conducted labs, that they would use dummy rifles called “rubber ducks.” Then to simulate actually firing the gun the cadet would have to yell “BANG” over and over. Times have changed. ROTC now utilizes paintball guns and with the help of Airsoft Club, airsoft guns. 

The ROTC program has made a purchase of many paintball guns and paintball ammunition. Airsoft Club has been kind enough to allow cadets to use their weaponry. What does this mean? Cadets will now learn to move faster and finally figure out what actual cover is. 

Paintball and airsoft began to increase heavily this spring especially with the focus being on platoon operations. Cadets would be in their platoon, given a mission, and given a weapon. The enemy also has weapons of course and getting shot by the enemy is not fun, but being the enemy and getting shot at by 15 cadets with airsoft and paintball gun is also kind of scary. 

Cadets would then move out on their mission. The mission might be conducting an assault, ambush, or establishing some form of a base. Cadets must always be on the lookout for the enemy and always be prepared to return fire and get to cover. 

When the enemy first starts taking shots at the cadets, cadets are to form a line of suppressive fire. No enemy wants to just lay in the open getting shot at by a bunch of cadets. They will hide behind a tree and just wait for the shooting to stop. This allows cadets to them properly perform a flanking maneuver. A squad will move around, flank, and eliminate any enemies that were not taken care of by the suppressive fire. 

But still cadets will get shot. That is where moving fast and finding real cover comes into play. A small tree will no longer be sufficient cover and just lying on the ground will also not work. Paintballs and BBs can and will hit a cadet in poor cover. 

Of course, the rubber ducks will still be used to teach basics when actual fighting is not necessary to the lab. 

Day of Challenges

February 23
The Day of Challenges had eight events for the participating groups of students to compete in and complete. The groups were comprised of students ranging from middle to high school, who had all come from different schools in the upper peninsula of Michigan. Each group of students had either one or two cadets to chauffeur them around and make sure everything was in order for them, but most importantly the cadets were able to use this time to get to know and mentor the younger generations.

The first three events of the day were the pool events. In the first of the pool events, the student had to perform a gear drop. This required the students to jump into the pool with a vest on, ditch the gear while they were underwater, and come up without it. Next in the pool events came the test for underwater ability and confidence. Simply put the young students would swim out into the pool where a ring had been placed on the floor of the pool. The student would have to retrieve the ring and bring it back to the course instructor.
Next came the physical events of which there were two. First was the obstacle course for time. This obstacle course was meant to simulate dragging a fallen soldier out of the battlefield and to safety. The course was demonstrated by the cadet and then completed by the group.
The second physical event was a relay event. In this event, each student would take turns running across the basketball court and completing a certain set amount of different physical exercises ranging from squats, sit-ups, and push-ups.
An escape room came next and tested the group’s ability to problem solve and retain information. The escape room started with them having to memorize a poster filled with different pictures that they would need to know for later. When inside the escape room they had to figure out the code to a computer, obtain a key from a hard to reach location using a long stick, build a puzzle, and configure an Army radio. When on the radio, they had to answer questions about the pictures they had seen earlier. Once they answered all the questions they were able to escape the room. The time it took for them to escape became their time score. The cadets were only allowed to observe the group and were not supposed to give any help.
It got dark next, but with the help of night vision goggles, the groups made it through the event. This next event required the groups to find missing stars from the American flag in a pitch-black room. Each member was given a night vision goggle and the whole group was timed to see how many stars could be found. The cadets were not allowed to help find the stars, but they were allowed to walk around with the night vision goggles.
The final event of the day was a laser tag match. Groups along with their cadets were arranged into teams of four. The game mode of choice for laser tag was king of the hill. The groups would attack the hill and capture it. Teams were able to terminate each other by landing four shots on each other. With the help of our local laser tag sponsor RESPAWN Laser Tag we were able to make this culminating event a huge success and tons of fun.
At the end of all the events and challenges, the teams went down to the ROTC building to enjoy a nice lunch. Following lunch was an award ceremony. Awards were given out to the teams who had proven themselves to be the best in the events that they all participated in. This event has been a tradition for years and will continue to be one of the key outreach events of the battalion.

Winter Carnival

Winter Carnival Statue at night

February 6th – 9th 

A celebration of the copious amount of snow that is dumped in the Keweenaw Peninsula every year, the Winter Carnival celebration is a fantastic opportunity for Esprit De Corps for the 1st Arctic Battalion. The theme this year was “Year of Innovation STEM from this Snowy Situation”. Part of Winter Carnival is the month-long construction of a snow statue, which is judged against many other organizations as well as the fraternities and sororities on campus. The cadets took it upon themselves to design a snow statue that represented not only the history of this battalion but also the history of innovation in our nation. The cadets designed and constructed the insignia of the Army Engineer branch and the Army Corps of Engineers. This Battalion was founded and started with the purpose of developing and training high-quality leaders for the Engineer branch of the Army and for many years was a key source in provided Engineer Second Lieutenants. This deep roots in the Engineering community both as a college and an Army ROTC program it was only fitting to build a snow statue as a tribute. The building of the statue culminates in the “all-nighter”, in which cadets attempt to complete the statue in the last 16 hours of the competition ending at 0800 on the final day. Overall the Statue stood over 16ft tall and was one of the biggest ones we have ever built. 

In addition to the snow statue, Cadets competed in various special events ranging from downhill skiing to curling and even crazy events such as the yooper sprint in which a cross country ski and a snowshoe are worn for a race. 

Army ROTC placed First in both the Men’s Division and the Special Events Men’s division Competing in a wide variety of activities throughout the week. 

Alumni Outreach

Cadets in front of a Michigan College of Mining and Technology bus circa 1950s

We want to recognize our ROTC alumni whose service to the United States, our local communities, Michigan Technological University and Finlandia University exemplifies the values and traditions of the Army and our program. 

Do you know a graduate of our program whose accomplishments are deserving of being recognized? Please help us shine the spotlight on them and give our current Cadets inspiring alums to look up to. Use the form on the link below to nominate an alumnus

Also, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with the Arctic Warriors’ training and events! 

Cadets Participate in Norwegian Foot March

Cadets Newell, Grulke, Maxey, Allen, Stelmaszek, Wittkopf and Catron pose for photo before the Norwegian Foot March
MTU Army ROTC cadets participate in the Norwegian Foot March

Over Thanksgiving break we had seven cadets (Newell, Grulke, Maxey, Allen, Stelmaszek, Wittkopf, and Catron) attend the Norwegian Foot March at Adren Hills Army Training Site, Minnesota.  It is a 30 KM/18.6 Mile march. Each participant carries  a 11 KG/25 Lbs ruck packed with nonperishable food and hygiene items that are donated to those in need at the end of the march.  All seven cadets passed the standard for the Norwegian Foot March and they all earned the bronze Marsjmerket badge. CDTs Grulke took 23 and Maxey took 24 out of 260. Good job Arctic Warriors!

Alumni Kevin Erkkila Featured in Midland Daily News on Deployment to Middle East

Kevin Erkkila during Commissioning Ceremony at 2015 Commencement.

Michigan Tech alumnus Kevin Erkkila ’15, was featured in the article “Midland Remembers First Lieutenant Kevin Erkkila, Operation Inherent Resolve in the Middle East,” in the Midland Daily News. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Erkkila completed the Army ROTC program at Michigan Tech and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army upon graduation. Erkkila is currently deployed in the Middle East serving as an engineering officer with the 3-21 Infantry Division.

Errkila’s story is part of the “Midland Remembers” series this November in the Midland Daily News. The series shares stories of veterans with ties to Midland, Michigan.

As some of you already know, my unit has been selected to deploy in support of Operation Inherent Resolve overseas in the Middle East. Because of this, I’ll be leaving the country for several months here shortly. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve my country. The Army has taken care of me for the last four years and I’m excited to see where the next adventure leads. Once I get overseas and have an address, I’ll share that and additional information with those who want it. Thank you all for your love and support. See you next year! –Kevin Erkkila