“On rappel” was heard many times as 18 hardy WCHS JROTC Cadets had the opportunity to conduct rappel training at the Richmond, KY, Fire Training Center on July 22. Cadets departed Wayne County at 0700 hours, dressed in their Cadet ACU uniforms with the thought of high adventure and an event they rarely have the opportunity to perform.
Rappel training is normally conducted during Junior Cadet Leadership Camp but the JROTC Cadet Corps has not had a JCLC for the past two years due to Covid 19.
“To stimulate morale and keep the cadets involved we thought we would try to get them rappel training,” said 1SG (RET) George Snyder, JROTC Army Instructor. “Because we have not had a camp for so long we needed to get the cadets involved in camp like experiences, so once JCLC resumes cadet will be aware of what they can expect, as rappel training is always a camp highlight.”
Rappel training is not for the faint at heart and requires a great deal of fortitude and the ability to overcome your fear of heights and to trust your rappel equipment and your belay partner. The cadets took all this in stride as they conducted ground school training prior to ascending the 45-foot rappel tower they would be using. Ground school is conducted so each person has the opportunity to completely inspect all equipment they will be using during the rappel.
Following specific instructions from the Rappel Master and his assistants, cadets inspected their helmets, gloves and especially the rappel harness before they were allowed to put the equipment on. Safety is the number one priority during rappel training and everyone must conform to very stringent safety requirements. They must also understand the commands associated with rappelling like “On Rappel” which indicates you are hooked into the rope and ready to descend the tower. Another command each person should hear after giving the “on rappel” is, “On Belay” That means you have a partner on the ground holding your rappel rope that can help control or stop your descent down the tower if you get out of position or lose your footing as you descend.
Fortunately, for the Wayne County Cadets the Rappel Master for the training was former WCHS JROTC Cadet and now KY National Guard Sergeant Major Anthony Hughes. SGM Hughes was very professional and was instrumental in getting all 18 cadets down the rappel tower in a safe controlled descent from the top of the tower.
“It sure was tough and frightening for me to have my heels over the edge of a 45 foot tower hanging from a rope hooked into my climbing harness,” said Cadet Captain Amber Russell.
”Even though I had rappelled at JCLC, it was just as tough and very exciting,” said Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Emily Carter, the Cadet Battalion Commander.
Every Cadet who hooked up went down the tower in a controlled descent. Not all were perfect rappels but that is what they were learning to do. Rappel. For some cadets everything went like clockwork - smooth and efficient - but for others who first had to overcome a real fear of heights, the event was very challenging and their rappel wasn’t exactly textbook. It didn’t seem to faze the cadets too much, however, as most of the cadets went back for their second rappel to improve their technique.
“I didn’t do very good coming down the first time,” said Cadet Bryson Redman but “I did much better the second time. The same could be said for several other cadets as well but they all tried and demonstrated they had the fortitude to complete the opportunity to do what only a few cadets will ever have the opportunity to do.
The WCHS Corps of Cadets would like to especially thank Brian Richmond, the training officer for the Richmond, KY Fire Department. He allowed us to use the Rappel Tower at the Training Center site and who accommodated us with whatever we required. Without his help, we could not have conducted our training. We also want to thank Sergeant Major Anthony Hughes for his technical expertise, training guidance and patience in working with our cadets as they had the experience of a lifetime.
Another person who was a tremendous asset and who aided SGM Hughes with training and performed a rappel demonstration was former JROTC Cadet and Battalion Commander Adrian Martin. Cadet Martin is now a Senior Army ROTC cadet at Western Kentucky University. His tremendous contribution was much appreciated and gave our cadets greater confidence during the Rappel training. Also another member of this great team was Cadet Major Cassidy Evans who was unable to rappel due to a broken ankle, but was there to support her team and took many of the pictures to record the events.
(Standing left to right:) Mr Brian Richmond , Richmond KY Fire Department Training Officer, Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Emily Carter, Cadet 2nd Lieutenant Summer Genie Canseco, Cadet Captain Rachael Nevels, Cadet Captain Amber T. Russell, Cadet Command Sergeant Major Zebulun Allison, Cadet Jacinda Dykes, Cadet Bobby Lewis, Cadet Zaccharuse Gilmore, Cadet Amelia (Meely) Ramsey, Senior ROTC Cadet Adrian Martin, PFC Mitchel Lowman KYNG, PFC Nicholas Hardwick KYNG, Sergeant Major Anthony Hughes KYNG
(Knelling:) Cadet Major and Battalion Executive Officer Cassidy Evans, Cadet Captain Drew Buswell, Cadet Captain Cierra Thomason, Cadet Captain Elijah Kidwell, Cadet Sergeant Zach Matthews, Cadet Makayla Sexton, Cadet Jayden Richardson, Cadet Zaccharuse Gilmore, Cadet Cailyn Botts
Sergeant Major Hughes gives instructions for Rappel equipment checks
Senior ROTC Cadet Adrian Martin gives assistance during rappel equipment checks
Senior ROTC Cadet Martin answers questions from JROTC Cadet Captain Drew Buswell
Cadet Amelia Ramsey begins her rappel and receives instructions from SGM Anthony Hughes
Cadet Amelia (Mealy) Ramsey on Rappel
Cadet second Lieutenant Summer (Genie) Canseco listens intently to SGM Hughes before she begins her Rappel
Cadet Captain Cierra Thomason on Rappel
Cadet Bn Commander Lieutenant Colonel Emily Carter ( center ) adjust her harness for fit. On her left is Cadet Cailyn Botts, behind her is Cadet Captain Cierra Thomason
Cadet Bn. Commander Lieutenant Colonel Emily Carter prepares for rappel with assistance from SGM Hughes. Waiting to go is Cadet Captain Amber Russell
Cadet Bn Commander Lieutenant Colonel Emily Carter on Rappel
Cadet Captain Amber Russell begins her rappel assisted by SGM Hughes
Cadet Captain Amber Russell on Rappel
Cadet Captain Amber Russell bounding out from tower on her rappel
Cadet Bobby Lewis on Rappel as other cadets observe
Cadet Bryson Redman demonstrates breaking techniques by releasing the guide hand from the rope.
Cadet Captain Elijah Kidwell on rappel and listening to instructions from SGM Hughes
Cadet Zaccharuse Gilmore on Rappel
Cadet Jayden Richardson almost on the ground assisted by Senior ROTC Cadet Adrian Martin on belay
Cadet Captain Rachael Nevels on rappel
Cadet Bryson Redman said he feels like flying on his way down
Cadet Zebulun Allison smiling at the camera while on rappel
Cadet Sergeant Zach Matthews starts his rappel
Cadet Jacinda Dykes listening for instructions as she begins her rappel
Cadet Cailyn Botts starts her rappel
Cadet Makayla Sexton begins her descent on rappel
Cadet Makayla Sexton into her rappel