In August, MMA alumni spent hours with cadets mentoring them in various ways – from training them as Fusileers to engaging in leadership and ethical decision-making discussion panels.
Throughout the week, MMA Alumni Kurt Bilsel ’81, Jesus Sorinao ’82, Rob Farnam ’84 and Jorge Soriano ’89 – all national title holders as MMA Fusileers – helped teach the 2019-20 Fusileer Drill Team exhibition drill moves.
Previously, cadets had only practiced regulation drill moves according to traditional military code formations. Exhibition drill formations, which could be described as a more creative, free-style drill form, include more advanced, exciting moves like rifle spinning.
“After only four days, they were already spinning rifles. It was impressive to see how much they learned in such a short time,” Farnam said. “It was rewarding to see their confidence level pick up and to see the determination of the cadets.”
According to Bilsel, the cadets appeared to be visibly inspired with the alumni stories about winning national championships: “They realize they can be national champions again with dedication, commitment and practice. We shared our experience and knowledge and they are excited and enthusiastic to build this team and be champions again.”
In addition to drill practice, these alumni spent time with cadet leaders to discuss what they learned from their time at MMA, in terms of ethical decision making, honor and integrity. They discussed the cadet oath given at resolution and how important that oath is as they go forward after graduation and into their adulthood.
“We wanted them to know that being a good leader means bringing others to a higher standard,” Farnam said, “The majority of decision making is based on ethics and doing things the correct way, and good decision making comes from goal setting.”
They also performed practice simulations to prepare cadets for dealing with difficult leadership situations, as well as how to help other cadets through difficult times.
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Soriano said. “I hope that after sharing my experiences as a cadet in a leadership position, these [cadet leaders] can help others expand their knowledge, leadership skills and gain a personal sense of satisfaction from knowing that they helped someone to navigate a difficult time, as this may be their first time away from home.”
On Wednesday, with the help of Director of Activities Rick Dehlinger ’93, they discussed a familiar historical video – The Last 100 Years – with new cadets, and led a panel discussion, answering questions cadets had regarding cadet life in the past vs. today.
“We wanted cadets to understand the different leadership styles today and in the past and how cadets can effectively motivate new cadets and old boys that have trouble meeting the standards,” Dehlinger said. “Traditions were discussed and the importance of these traditions to alumni.”
“Being a good leader means you have to change with the times,” Farnam added, “but the proper way to do things will always be with honor and integrity.”
At the end of the week, Farnam presented the Academy with the Governor’s Trophy, engraved with the names of all the national championship Fusileer teams from MMA’s 130 year history.
MMA President General Richard Geraci also awarded the visiting alumni with presidential coins for their outstanding commitment to the Academy and cadets.
While alumni were honored by the coins, they agreed the personal reward they felt from mentoring cadets was their greatest gift.
“The reward I received was the opportunity to invest my time sharing the lost knowledge and history with the future generations of Fusileers,” Bilsel said.
"I enjoyed their honesty and desire to hear from a different perspective. It was most rewarding because we were close brothers leaning on each other to do a job better," Soriano added. "I would like this opportunity to be on-going, so future battalion leadership may have this type of one-on-one learning with former cadet leaders, where the exchange of new and old regulations, traditions and ideas can take place in an open and nurturing way. I would be honored to do this every year, as it was certainly a privilege to have spent time with these cadets. I hope during our time together they learned as much from me as I did from them."
According to Farnam, it was easy to get involved and he plans to do it again. “I just reached out to alumni who I had a strong relationship with, who I knew could make the trip with me, and we made it happen,” he said. “It’s worth the work when you see the excitement level of the cadets we work with. Alumni can have a big impact on cadets’ lives by mentoring them.”
If you would like to donate your time or talent to the MMA Corps of Cadets, please contact Dehlinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cadet oath given at resolution is as follows
My goal in life is to achieve in my profession and to become a citizen of the highest integrity in my community.
To this end I resolve that:
- Honesty and integrity in thought, word, and deed shall characterize my relationships with others.
- Excellence shall be the hallmark of my endeavors.
- Respect and consideration for all persons and their property shall be my resolve.
- Strength of character shall be my objective as I strive to achieve greater self-discipline and the highest physical, mental, spiritual, and moral development at MMA.
- Responsibility shall be my watchword, both in my obligations to others and my commitment to my own objectives and ideals.
- Remembering that noble thoughts inspire noble deeds, I shall aspire to a life of honor and able service to my family, self, community and country