Three girls, two Korean and one Chinese, have something in common: all of them were the shy, quiet girls who sat in the back of the classroom and typically didn’t say much. All three attended Walnut High School and are fourth-year criminology, law and society majors at UC Irvine. More notably, all three enlisted in the U.S. Army immediately after Sept. 11, 2001.
At first glance, it seems like Gina Roh, Jina Rhim and Patricia Liu were made for the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).
The ROTC appeals to those who want to be strong physically and in character.
The girls gather every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to train. Fourth-year military science (MS IV) cadets huddle with groups of 10 to 12 underclassmen, teaching them battle drills that create situational awareness in case of a defensive strike.
Jeff Linzey, the lab official in charge, is a Vanguard University alum. Unlike the UCI cadets, Linzey comes from a family that holds a strong tradition of military involvement: his father is a lieutenant colonel stationed in Georgia, and his brother’s unit is soon moving to South Korea. Linzey plans on going to law school at USC to become a judge advocate general under the Army Corps of Lawyers.
Linzey’s battle drills are primarily attack-based, and Linzey describes the U.S. Army as ‘an exclusively offensive army.’
There are currently 110 cadets enrolled in ROTC, eight of whom come from UCI. When asked about the benefits of joining, Lieutenant Colonel William Howard, professor of military science at CSU Fullerton, listed leadership training, planning proficiency and the ability to cooperate as a team.
A crosstown agreement with the Claremont Colleges Extension Office allows qualified UCI students to participate in the CSUF ROTC program. A successful completion of the program leads to a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, whether it is in the Reserve, National Guard or active duty. Students can choose a two-, three- or four-year contract.
ROTC students are then provided with tuition and fee payments at UCI, as well as monthly stipends of at least $250. ROTC students who receive scholarships must complete four years of full-time service with the army. However, cadets may choose to serve part time in the U.S. Army Reserve or National Guard while pursuing a civilian career.
Roh, an MS IV officer, is taking the part-time career track. Shocked by 9/11, Roh enlisted immediately thereafter. She assumed that the United States was going to war and he wanted to help. She joined the ROTC in hopes of developing strong leadership skills that would help her in the army as well as her civilian career.
Roh explained that during officer training ‘you are in charge of a great number of soldiers, and that capability to influence puts you on a higher level.’ When asked how she feels about serving in Iraq, she says that ‘everyone that joins is aware that he or she will have to see war one day.’
After graduating, Roh wants to partake in the Reserve as a part-time soldier. She will be stationed at the Military Intelligence Unit in Bell, Calif. in the near future.
Rhim, her friend and fellow cadet, shares the same sentiments. After graduating, she hopes to become a part of the Army Adjutant General Corps, for which she will start training next month. Upon arriving at UCI, she ‘didn’t really have any goals, but ROTC helped by giving me focus, as well as time management skills. I used to be shy, but this has helped me become more motivated and mature,’ Rhim said.
Liu, who joined in the second semester of her sophomore year, also claimed to have gained many skills in the ROTC.
‘It has given me a lot of experience, specifically with leadership and tactical decision-making, how to coordinate and plan events and how to communicate with people in general,’ Liu Said. When asked how she would feel if she had to report for active duty, Liu stated, ‘We do what we have to do and don’t really ask why. There’s always a purpose to every mission, and we trust our leaders. That is what we learn here: We have to trust everything they do.’
As of Oct. 14, 2007, the Department of Defense has confirmed that 3,828 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. According to Iraq Body Count, an independent group that updates the number of civilian deaths since the invasion in 2003, approximately 78,000 civilian deaths have occurred.
For cadets like Liu, the ROTC isn’t just an after school activity. The skills enforced on the training grounds have become permanent parts of their lives. For all three cadets, being an active member of ROTC has created a mentality of self-awareness, focus and maturity.