MADISON, Wis. --
The Air Force ROTC at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is officially one of the best in the nation after the cadre won the national Right of Line award for best small detachment in the nation.
This is the first time Detachment 925, the Air Force ROTC program that includes UW-Madison, UW-Whitewater, Edgewood, and Maranatha Baptist Bible College, has won the national Right of Line award.
Lt. Col. Todd Berge says Detachment 925's cadets set the detachment apart from the rest in the nation.
"Our cadets stand out because they are high quality students and future officers," Berge says. "I also take great responsibility along with my cadre to mentor and motivate my cadets to do the best in everything they do. They know that we set the standard and I let them know that from the first day I was in the seat as the commander. I teach them to always lead by example."
The award was announced at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala, during this month's Commander's Conference.
Detachment 925 won the Right of Line award for best small detachment in the nation. There are three categories of detachments in Air Force ROTC--small, medium and large--and small detachments are those that consist of less than 74 cadets.
To qualify for the Right of Line award, detachments are judged on their university activities, community participation, military preparedness and success in meeting AFROTC academic, fitness and retention goals.
The commander submits a package detailing what the detachment has done to go above and beyond standard Air Force ROTC requirements. Detachments are also measured on tangible scores such as GPAs and physical fitness test scores.
Berge says he has been pushing cadets hard during physical fitness sessions and that effort has paid off: Detachment 925 had the ninth highest physical fitness score in the nation last year, and is expected to be in the top five this year.
"Seeing things like this award shows the cadets that their hard work is recognized," Berge says. "This is always something I tell them is great about the Air Force. I don't believe there is any corporation in America that recognizes excellence as well as the Armed Forces."
Part of the selection process includes a limited notice "surprise" inspection. The detachment only had 30 days to prepare but their performance on the inspection ultimately helped them win the award, Berge says.
Detachment 925 works to think outside the box to train and take the lead on activities throughout the year while also inviting other AFROTC detachments to participate, Berge says.
Although the nearest Air Force base is a six-hour road trip away, the detachment still uses Fort McCoy for the annual Field Training Prep weekend. In addition, Detachment 925 trains at Volk Field each fall, including day and night navigation using night vision goggles, ATV training and even some urban warfare training. The detachment also coordinated with the Milwaukee Air National Guard and took cadets on a Boeing KC-135 plane to watch air refueling on F-16 fighter jets.
UW-Madison's detachment usually invites other AFROTC detachments from Wisconsin and Minnesota to attend many of these events and activities.
Winning the Right of Line award means that AFROTC cadets at UW-Madison are doing it right, Berge says.
"It means we are teaching and living the Air Force's three core values: Integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do," he says.
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