FORT KNOX, Ky. – The Cadre running the lanes at Group and Zero training watch over Advanced Camp Cadets from 7th Regiment as they adjust their rifles at Fort Knox, Ky., July 9, 2023.

Cadet Austin Herrman from Penn State University, 7th Regiment, Advanced Camp, checks out his target after finishing a round of shooting at Group and Zero training at Fort Knox, Ky., July 9, 2023. Herrman said he likes to make sure he has his breathing under control before he fires off his weapon at the range. | Photo by Kate Koennecke, Ohio State University, CST Public Affairs Office

Like every single Cadet that participates in Cadet Summer Training, every Cadre comes to Fort Knox with their own story. Advanced Camp Cadets often base their personal leadership styles based off how the Cadre guides them through CST.

“I know what type of leader that I want to be as I’ve learned from trial and error from other people’s failures and successes,” said Cadet Austin Herrman from Penn State University. “I know how I want to treat my soldiers in the future.”

Herrman believes that the best Cadre at CST are the one’s that take the time to get to know the Cadets as people.

“The best way to support Cadets is just by being there by their side,” Herrman said. “Knowing their problems, and actually understanding the Soldier instead of just treating them like an ID number.”

While Herrman prepared for his first round of shooting, 1st. Lt. Jefferey Reffert, a range officer in charge for Canby Hill Range and 2nd Lt. Thomas Mclaughlin, a recent graduate from Norwich University, spoke on the importance of seeing the humanity within one another as U.S. Army Soldiers.  

“Until you really experience the Army from day-to-day, then you don’t realize that we’re human beings that have lives,” said Mclaughlin. “I commissioned at the end of April of 2023; I went from being a college student to working for the Army full time.”

During Group and Zero training, 2nd Lt. Thomas Mclaughlin, a recent graduate from Norwich University, watches Cadets on the shooting lane at Fort Knox, Ky., July 9, 2023. Mclaughlin’s job at Cadet Summer Training is to track Cadets shooting data, or how long it takes a Cadets to add zero in their weapon. | Photo by Kate Koennecke, Ohio State University, CST Public Affairs Office

After working together, Reffert noted that Mclaughlin seems more confident in his role as an officer now than he did at the start of CST.  These two Cadre members have taken the time to get to know Cadets as people.

“It’s important as a leader to be interested in Cadets as people, because we want to be seen as people just as much as they do,” Reffert explained. “For example, just two weeks ago, I had an non-commissioned officer that had his third baby, so my wife and I put together a basket and sent it to them.”

Reffert said that putting together the baby basket was “the most rewarding” experience he has had as a leader within the past 18 months. Reffert emphasized that being a good leader is all about going beyond a Soldier’s basic duties.

At Group and Zero training, 1st Lt. Jefferey Reffert (from left) and 2nd Lt. Thomas Mclaughin look over a Cadet’s practice target at Fort Knox, Ky., July 9, 2023. Reffert said that he has enjoyed passing on his knowledge to Cadets at Cadet Summer Training this summer. | Photo by Kate Koennecke, Ohio State University, CST Public Affairs Office


“There are ways that you can make a difference outside of your role, such as making the baby baskets or going to appointments with Soldiers,” Reffert said. “They don’t teach you that in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or West Point, you find that out on the job.”

Reffert said he has enjoyed sharing the lessons he has learned as a Soldier to Cadets at CST this summer.

“I have found meaning every day by passing on knowledge,” Reffert said. “For anybody that is a part of the units that are to come and support CST, I promise you that you can make it a rewarding experience if you want to.”

About the Author: Kate Koennecke
Kate Koennecke
Kate Koennecke is a rising junior at The Ohio State University double-majoring in Political Science and Strategic Communications. This summer, Koennecke will be working as a Public Affairs Intern, covering events throughout Cadet Summer Training this summer as a Photojournalist. Koennecke has had many experiences working in the public sphere, including interning for the Ohio Statehouse for the Ohio Democratic Caucus in the Senate in the fall of 2022. Once this summer comes to an end, Koennecke hopes to take back her knowledge of Public Affairs back to the Buckeye state with her.