ROTC cadet Andrew Chung's Warrior Forge team tackles the Zodiac challenge, involving an obstacle course, purposefully capsizing and then righting the Zodiac raft, and carrying the vessel overland. Photo by Andrew Chung.
University of San Francisco Army Reserve Officer Training
Corps cadet Andrew Chung finished at the top of his class of 450 fellow cadets from
across the nation during Operation Warrior Forge this summer.
Chung, a senior history major, overcame injuries and the
elements to finish ahead of his competition. While sleeping outside on separate
occasions during the training, he suffered two serious spider bites, including
one from a Brown Recluse. Still, he persevered during the month-long leadership
and war games training.
“I just sucked it up and realized this was a month that
could decide my future,” said Chung, whose face ballooned from the first,
unidentified, spider bite and who, later, had to be hospitalized for five hours
as a result of the Recluse bite.
But, overcoming injuries wasn’t his toughest challenge
during Warrior Forge. That was trying to lead a team of “chiefs” with too few
subordinates. “The key was to find a balance; to know when to sacrifice my
opinion,” Chung said. “Teamwork was key.”
Being acknowledged as the top-performing cadet in a regiment
is a significant achievement and places Chung among the apex of Army ROTC
cadets in the nation, according to Jeremy O’Bryan, U.S. Army Cadet Command
public affairs officer at Ft. Lewis, Washington, where Warrior Forge was held.
“I just took it as blessing,” said Chung, about earning the
No. 1 ranking in his class. “But, I’m nothing special. It’s a team thing. God
blessed me and gave me a terrific team.”
Warrior Forge, intended to prepare cadets to be Army
lieutenants, tested everything he had learned in ROTC, from physical fitness, leadership,
and decision making to situational battle drills intended to imitate Iraq,
After Warrior Forge graduation July 23, Chung returned home
for just five days before heading to the U.S. Army’s challenging airborne
parachute school at Ft. Benning, Georgia. The three-week airborne course, which
puts cadets through a grueling training regimen and hones their skills for
safely parachuting in full combat gear, is highly coveted.
Cadets are trained alongside regular military personnel from
various branches, allowed to wear their “wings” after graduation, and often
become mentors to younger cadets once they’re back on campus. In addition,
airborne training helps build a cadet’s resume, potentially opening the door to
further training in air assault, mountain warfare, special operations, and
For him, jumping out of an airplane the first time wasn’t
scary, Chung said. There were too many procedures running through his mind
to allow that to creep in. Before he knew it, he was in the air barreling
“When my parachute opened up, it literally felt
like God was holding me up,” Chung said. “It was the most peaceful feeling.”