Two dozen members of the UT Army ROTC Pershing Rifles Troop are traveling to Jacksonville, Fla., to participate in the John J. Pershing Memorial Drill Competition on Saturday, March 16. The event is part of the 2013 Pershing Rifles National Convention and Alumni Reunion.
“Last year it was so close, but we’re definitely feeling confident about 2013,” said Pershing Rifle Capt. David Hritz, a UT junior from Geneva, Ohio, studying computer science engineering. “Our biggest downfall last year was in exhibition because of degree of difficulty. We’ve added some difficult components and our routine is a lot better.”
The drill competition events include platoon, squad, duet and individual exhibition drills, which are the more choreographed routines showcasing techniques and maneuvers, as well as platoon and squad regulation drills where the cadets perform a series of specific commands. There are 13 cadets who compete in a platoon event and seven in a squad.The competition also includes a color guard event in which UT placed first in 2011 when the troop attended the convention for the first time in seven years and participated in only that event and the individual exhibition drill.
In 2012, the UT drill team competed in all events, earning second place overall as well as a first-place finish in the platoon regulation drill, second-place finishes in the duet exhibition drill and squad regulation drill, and third-place finishes in the platoon exhibition drill and squad exhibition drill.
“These students are committed. It takes a lot of work and a lot of practice, similar to what a band does,” said UT Army ROTC Maj. William Wedley, who is the Pershing Rifle Troop’s adviser. “In the last few years, the cadets have become more serious about participation and competition. They’ve been re-energized and there’s definitely more of a pep in their step this year.”
The National Society of Pershing Rifles promotes precision rifle drill as a means to develop leadership traits in students at nearly 200 college campuses across the country.
The Army ROTC cadets who choose to be part of the Pershing Rifle military fraternity are committed to leadership, discipline and honor, Hritz said.
“The best cadets, in my opinion, are ones who join Pershing Rifles. They are premier leaders.”