FRANKFORT, Ky. –
The National Guard’s senior enlisted advisor visited the University of Kentucky (UK) and Kentucky State University (KSU) Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets at their respective campuses in Lexington and Frankfort, Ky. on Dec. 5, 2022.
Senior Enlisted Advisor Tony Whitehead, SEA to the chief, National Guard Bureau, visited both universities to talk to cadets on the importance of building strong relationships and communication between the officer and enlisted corps early in their careers and how essential their leadership training is to the future of the force.
KSU Army ROTC is a partnership program with the University of Kentucky. Along with Centre College and Asbury University, they make up the more than 200 Air and Army officer cadets of the Wildcat Battalion.
While at UK, Whitehead participated in their morning physical training, consisting of friendly but competitive rounds of dodgeball between the Air and Army cadets.
After the competition, Whitehead spoke on open communication between officers and enlisted noncommissioned officers and its importance.
“I think it is important for future officers to understand the value of the relationship they’re going to have with the enlisted corps,” said Whitehead. “It is not something that needs to be introduced to you the day you become part of the force, you need to learn that it is part of what you learn in the development phase of your education.”
Whitehead recognized Air Force cadet Addison Utterback and Army cadet Hayden Roshong for their accomplishments in the program by presenting them with a challenge coin. He concluded his presentation by saying, “we have amazing leaders in our armed forces that do things by leading by example,” and reinforced that leaders are out front.
“Leaders don’t just tell people what to do.” Whitehead said. “They are right there with them doing it.”
After physical fitness training, Whitehead received a tour of Buell Armory from Air Force Cadets Andrew Nord and James Young, both members of the Kentucky Air National Guard.
Buell Armory has a rich history dating back to 1917 when UK Army ROTC was established. As a land-grant university under the Morrill Act, military training was a requirement. The University of Kentucky has commissioned officer who have fought in every war since WWI.
Whitehead then headed to Frankfort to meet with KSU Army ROTC cadets for a tour of the Kentucky State University campus and lunch with cadets, cadre, and alumni.
Kentucky State University is also a land-grant university and is the second largest land-grant university in Kentucky after the University of Kentucky. However, KSU received its land-grant as a Historical Black College and University (HBCU) as part of the second Morrill Act, which focused on creating universities and colleges in southern states that did not allow African American students into state schools.
Kentucky State University has partnered with the University of Kentucky throughout its history to commission Army officers through its satellite ROTC program. KSU has a smaller student population and to supplement their program, KSU partners with the UK Army ROTC program for their students to participate in military science labs and training, to include physical training testing.
KSU cadets were excited to have Whitehead visit their campus.
“I think this is a huge step in advocating for KSU ROTC’s program,” said Cadet Hidejuha Kennedy, a cadet with KSU Army ROTC. “It will help get us the awareness we need to increase the numbers in our ROTC program. There are a lot of National Guardsmen on our campus that are not maximizing their benefits while at the school.”
“Our number one goal is to recruit more people, to recruit more people to be our future leaders,” said Kennedy.
While touring the campus, Whitehead was approached by a student who recognized his Air Force uniform and told him he was thinking about joining the Air Force after he finished his degree.
Darryl D. Thompson, a government relations administrator KSU witnessed the interaction commented about the importance of representation.
“Just seeing you and your team here in the cafeteria sparks interest and questions about the program and the benefits that are available to all students here on campus,” said Thompson.
While at KSU, Whitehead also recognized cadets for their academic and athletic achievements, to include Army ROTC Cadet Roderic Walls, who not only is on a track scholarship but has scored a 600 on the Army Combat Fitness Test while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
Army ROTC Cadet Ellis Jackson was also recognized for maintaining a 4.0 GPA during his tenure at KSU while outperforming his peers.
Both universities’ cadets and cadre remarked on the significance of a senior military leader visiting their campuses.
“UK Army ROTC promotes leadership for the total Army, components one, two, and three. Guard and Reserve Soldiers demand superior leadership for second lieutenants just as much as the active component. We fight as a total Army, and having the senior enlisted advisor visit UK only amplifies our messages that the Wildcat Battalion produces those leaders for the total Army,” said Lt. Col. Alan Overmyer, professor of military science UK Army ROTC.