Mercer’s ROTC program hosted the local Warner Robins High School JROTC for a paintball event in an effort to boost interest in pursuing military careers in college on Feb. 16.
About 30 Warner Robins High School JROTC cadets were driven to On Target Paintball where Mercer cadets demonstrated basic squad STX (situational tactical exercise; pronounced “sticks”). Later the JROTC cadets took part in the STX lanes themselves.
Second Lieutenant Alexander Wieberg, who acts as a Gold Bar Recruiter for Mercer, relies on the interest generated by similar recruiting events throughout the year.
“We used to recruit by geographic region, visiting high schools across Georgia, but our efforts were less than fruitful,” Wieberg said.
Due to large competition with military schools such as North Georgia, Wieberg specifically targets schools with high academic ratings and existing JROTC programs. His goal is to draw in students who want to pursue a civilian professional degree as well as join the military.
Teams of five junior cadets, each led by a Mercer cadet, were pitted against each other in an elimination-style game of attack and defend in three separate courses. Afterward, squads performed mock first aid on eliminated players.
“I didn’t expect it to be so intense—my gun jammed, but I’d definitely do it again,” said JROTC cadet Sean Rogers.
“It was very exciting,” said Austin Sanders, another JROTC cadet. “Paint balls were constantly whizzing overhead.” Sanders also participated in a medical evaluation of an enemy soldier after his team won an engagement.
While the recruiting event focused on building teamwork for the JROTC, Mercer cadets benefited as well. Hosting squad STX at On Target Paintball allowed the Mercer cadets to practice their leadership skills on individuals with whom they were not familiar.
“It is great experience for the Juniors to teach novices,” said Cadet Captain Uebel.
As a senior cadet at Mercer, Uebel was tasked with grading underclassmen Cadet Sergeant Reed and Cadet Sergeant Kim in their strategy. Uebel’s grade will ultimately affect their national standing as cadets.
“In a lot of ways, it is a student-run organization,” said Cadet Recruitment Officer Mike Davis. “The cadets handle all the day-to-day stuff. When a project or recruiting event comes up, the Cadre [Professors of Military Science] turn to us.”
Davis is a senior who plans to attend seminary upon graduating. He organized the majority of the paintball recruiting event and allocated jobs to his fellow cadets.
“This event gives us a chance to let local kids know that ROTC is a great way to pay for Mercer and play paintball at the same time,” Wieberg said. “Who wouldn’t want to do that?”