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      Staff Ride

      PMC Alumnus Creates Memorable ROTC Staff Ride

      ROTC Staff Ride

      More than 20 cadets took part in the ROTC senior staff ride to Gettysburg this month.

      Before they can graduate, senior cadets with Widener’s Dauntless Battalion ROTC program are required to attend a Staff Ride excursion where they learn about battle tactics and leadership on the spot where a battle took place.

      This year, that experience led 22 cadets and four faculty members to a weekend in Gettysburg, where retired U.S. Army Colonel Tom Vossler, a graduate of the Pennsylvania Military College class of 1968, served as their guide and host.

      Vossler, a military historian and Gettysburg licensed battlefield guide, spent a Saturday afternoon bringing a battle of more than 150 years ago to life in the minds of the cadets. Weapons and tactics have changed since the Civil War, but the value of leadership has not. Vossler said that was his focus.

      “We’re teaching leadership principles and leadership components that are universal over time,” he said. “What you’re talking about are people leading people.”

      After the battlefield tour and talk, he welcomed the group back to his home at Mountain View Farm near Gettysburg. There, they had dinner and camped outside overnight.

      Lt. Col. Justin J. Shaffer, who commands the Dauntless Battalion, said Vossler’s contributions made the weekend valuable and memorable. Shaffer led last year’s Staff Ride, which lasted just an afternoon and involved him reading from a book about the Battle of Brandywine on that field.

      Cadet Jared Becker said this year’s full weekend experience was valuable.

      “Cadets had the opportunity to analyze the terrain, resources and historical context of the battle to better understand how and why the battle progressed as it did. Furthermore, cadets were able to compare and contrast their individual ideas and strategies with how the soldiers at the time fought the battle. The involvement of the PMC alumni provided unique insight with this aspect of the staff ride,” he said.

      Vossler served 30 years of active duty in the U.S. Army, with a period of service that encompassed the Vietnam War, the Cold War and the First Gulf War. He facilitates staff rides frequently at Gettysburg, but had never done one for the Dauntless Battalion.

      “This is a way to give back to the university and it’s also my way of giving back to the Army,” Vossler said.

      Widener is grateful to Vossler for his contributions and hospitality that weekend. In addition, the ROTC thanks the PMC Alumni and PMC Museum Committee, which also supported the event.

      “This was a great first step in the cadets seeing a bridge to the alumni,” Shaffer said.


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