Foot marches prepare Army ROTC cadets for the future

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The sky was still dark on Thursday morning when TCU Army ROTC cadets embarked on a non-tactical foot march in Trinity Park.

Cadets assembled at 5:45 a.m. in a field near the park entrance on Crestline Road. A few birds could be heard chirping, and ever so often, headlights from a passing car broke through the darkness.

They marched in rows of four through the park and alongside the Trinity River. Cadets went to the underpass of Interstate 30, next to University Drive.

About halfway through the return trip, cadets turned around, marched back to the underpass a second time, and then returned to their starting point to conclude the march as the sun was beginning to rise.

Army ROTC cadets participate in several detachment foot marches each semester. The marches are part of the detachment-level physical training (PT) sessions that normally occur on Thursday mornings.

“Once a month we try to do a foot march out here in Trinity Park,” retired Sgt. 1st Class Theodis Johnson Jr. said. “What this does for cadets is give them an opportunity to lead in different situations with their group.”

Johnson said giving cadets the experience of marching will prepare them for the road ahead in the Army.

“These are things they’re going to do this summer when they (cadets) get to camp at Fort Knox in Kentucky,” Johnson said. “We don’t want them to feel lost or not confident about what they are doing.”

Johnson said cadets do two types of marches: tactical and non-tactical. He said that in a tactical march, cadets carry mock weapons, whereas they are unarmed in a non-tactical march.

“They’re not in a tactical formation that would provide them good security or distance between personnel in case they came among an attack,” Johnson said. “In a tactical march they would be able to defend themselves.”

Cadets also practiced cadence calls during Thursday’s non-tactical march, in which one cadet recited a call and the rest of the corps repeated it in unison.

Several cadets alternated in leading the corps in the calls. The calls included the widely known, “Everywhere we go, people want to know.” 

Johnson said that the program would try to alternate between tactical and non-tactical marches this semester. He added that the marches in the fall semester were primarily tactical.

“We’ll do at least two tactical and two non-tactical,” Johnson said.

As is the case for many of the program’s activities, marches help cadets bond and work together, said cadet William Porter, a first-year nursing major.

“I enjoy that they teach us how to do it once we actually get out there,” Porter said. “I think it’s teaching me good leadership.”