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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
<p>Cadet Sgt. Ben Mathews, a family, youth and community sciences major, lifts a log in a drill&nbsp; to prepare for Ranger Challenge.</p>

Cadet Sgt. Ben Mathews, a family, youth and community sciences major, lifts a log in a drill  to prepare for Ranger Challenge.

Clad in camouflage and dress uniforms, Army ROTC cadets endured the afternoon heat Thursday to take part in Operation Showoff, ROTC's annual demonstration lab event.

About 120 cadets from UF, Santa Fe College, St. Leo University and College of Central Florida attended the event on Flavet Field, according to Cadet Lt. Col. Eric Strnad, a UF criminology senior.

Cadets from Santa Fe, St. Leo and CF participated in all of UF ROTC's Thursday afternoon labs, Strnad said.

Cadets climbed a rock wall and examined M4 and M16 assault rifles, which were left unloaded per campus regulations. They also learned about air defense artillery and checked out Humvees and a helicopter.

Strnad said ROTC holds the event every year to introduce new cadets to ROTC and smaller programs within it, such as Raiders and Ranger Challenge, two teams of cadets that participate in military skills competitions against other ROTC programs.

Members of Gator Guard Drill Team, Raiders and Ranger Challenge demonstrated their skills to the new cadets.

"We're basically showing off everything we can do," Strnad said.

The goal is to make new students aware that the ROTC program is more than just a class.

"These groups are more than groups," he said. "They're almost fraternal."

Cadet 2nd Lt. Matthew Runnels said he probably would not have been able to complete college without the support of the ROTC program.

Now a senior majoring in geography, he said he joined ROTC as a freshman for the experience.

"I never would have been skydiving; I never would have repelled out of a helicopter if not for the Army," he said.

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Cadet Sgt. Ben Mathews, a family, youth and community sciences major, lifts a log in a drill  to prepare for Ranger Challenge.

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