Marquette Wire

Army ROTC members rappel down Memorial Library

Photo by Kevin Wells

Photo by Kevin Wells

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Marquette’s Army ROTC rappelled off the top of Memorial Library last week for a training session designed to give its members confidence and provide some stress relief.

“We start from the top of the roof and more or less bounce off the wall all the way down,”Isabelle Lyons, a junior in the College of Nursing, said. “We’re hooked up to a carabiner at the top and you’ve got someone feeding you rope from the bottom.”

Sgt. Ian Roberts, the former junior instructor of ROTC students at Marquette, supervised the training. Roberts is being re-stationed to Fort Carson in Colorado and wanted to help students with a final rappel training session before he left. He said it wasn’t designed to make them rappel masters, it was more about boosting confidence.

“This morning, a girl looked over the edge and immediately said, ‘I can’t do this,’ and backed away,” Roberts said. “I talked to her for a couple minutes, she did two bounds down and said, ‘This is fun!’ Doing this a couple of times will continue to build confidence and we’re trying to build confident leaders.”

More safety requirements are put in place for rappelling on campus than in the army, Roberts said.

“Any time (ROTC members) are within 10 feet of the ledge, they have to be hooked in,” Roberts said. “They always have to wear helmets, the people holding the ropes use gloves. Probably the biggest safety precaution of them all is the person standing on the ground, called a belay. If someone starts falling, the belay pulls the rope and it stops them dead in their tracks.”

The practical uses of rappelling in the army are limited, Brad Kempka, the belay for the session and a senior in the College of Nursing, said.

“There’s one division in the army that uses air assault movements, so they’re based around helicopter operations,” Kempka said. “As far as ROTC goes, it’s just about building confidence.”

The pain caused by a strapped harness is good motivation to jump away from the ledge, A.J. Fernandez, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, said.

“Before you jump, you feel your swiss seat, the thing that ties around the waist, tighten up a lot,” Fernandez said. “It hurts real bad and you just want to get down, but once you’re going down you don’t feel it anymore. After the pain stopped, I just focused on my technique.”

Roberts said the training’s timing is perfect for ROTC members that are worried about upcoming midterm exams.

“It’s kind of like a decompressor, a little stress relief for some people,” Roberts said. “Some people are extremely stressed when they start, but by the time they get to the bottom, they’ve knocked it out.”

Roberts said that he hopes these positive public training sessions will help change the views of ROTC protesters.

“The protesters think that we just train to go kill, but that’s not what we do,” Roberts said. “We train to make them good leaders. To make them think critically, to be agile and able to overcome certain situations.”

Kempka said the training session will prepare members for the future.

“I think people that were intimidated beforehand walked out realizing that it wasn’t that bad,” Kempka said. “For the future, they know they can do things that they don’t think they can at first.”

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