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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Selfless Service

 
 

It was a clear and brisk fall day. The fading leaves were a sign of the passage and frailty of life all too present in the minds of those who attended the funeral of Lt. Col David E. Cabrera. Through the eyes of Daniel Bernhard, there was only one comfort he could provide as he and his fellow Ross Volunteers stood vigilant and tall, dressed in clean white.
As they quietly escorted the body of Lt. Col David E. Cabrera, an Aggie killed in combat in November 2011, they were there to provide comfort in a time of loss, to remind everyone that Aggies never have to grieve alone, that Aggies never forget their fallen.
The Ross Volunteer Company of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets attend events like these on a regular basis, serving as an elite unit of cadets who exemplify selfless service and moral values in an effort to give back and represent the University.
The purpose of our organization is just to give back what weve been given, said Scott Lovett, senior finance major and Ross Volunteer tree platoon leader.
We dont ask to be recognized for different things. We dont try and put our name out there. All we do is we try and go out there and serve. We dont ask for anything other than just allowing us to come help out and serve in any capacity.
The Ross Volunteer Company was established in 1887 and remains the oldest student organization in Texas. They have also served as the honor guard of the governor of Texas since 1950 and serve as escorts of special guests and dignitaries. In addition, they have represented the University out of state as the personal guard of King Rex at the Mardi Gras Parade and attend weddings and funerals at the request of former students. Despite the numerous services they do on behalf of the University, the volunteers always attempt to serve without pomp and circumstance.
Were just here to serve the University, and theres nothing that we love more than doing that, said Corbin Flores, senior sociology major and Ross Volunteer Company historian. People do recognize the fact that we are Ross Volunteers, but we try not to show it. Obviously we do things with Silver Taps and Muster, but even within the company we dont speak about it because thats one of the things thats for the families.
The ideals of the Ross Volunteer Company are centered around the cadet values of honor, integrity and selfless service while additionally encompassing the values of being a soldier, statesman and knightly gentleman that were exemplified by Lord Sullivan Ross of whom the company is named. Such a namesake carries a high precedent for the cadets to represent.
When we are in that uniform, we are no longer individuals, said Daniel Bernhard, senior public service administration major. When we wear our uniform, youll notice we dont have a name tape on our uniform. We have a moral responsibility now to do the best we can to be solid individuals and it takes a lot of moral aptitude to understand youre not just representing yourself.
Those who are members in the Ross Volunteer Company are considered to be the most exemplary cadets in the Corps. They are expected to uphold high moral and physical standards. The idea of the Ross Volunteers is those who are selected to join the company are already holding themselves to a higher standard prior to acceptance.
We dont try and change somebodys morals, Lovett said. What we try to do is pick the people who believe in the morals that are kind of just a moral standard of society. And we try and pick those people that are already at the level that we need and then we go from there.
Apart from the high values one must uphold to be a member of the Ross Volunteer Company, there are also physical challenges that must be met. Members of the Ross Volunteer Company must learn to drill with a rifle, a skill that is new to many cadets.
The main practices are on Monday and Wednesday, said Marc Martinex, junior kinesiology major. If you go out there and youre not physically fit, it will take time to self improve. Some days, if were not doing too well well go on a run instead of drill.
For some in the company, the desire to serve as a Ross Volunteer comes from a desire to emulate or honor friends and family who were former Ross Volunteers. Many current Ross Volunteers have seen the character and behavior of the Volunteers that have come before them and sought to follow in their shoes.
I know for myself there was one upperclassmen that I had, Taylor Gillespie, who was a very active Ross Volunteer, Bernhard said. He was very proud of the organization. For me, signing up for Ross Volunteers was an honor to his memory and to honor those things that he honored, to continue that tradition of being a truly selfless person in everything he pursued.
The ideal of being a selfless individual is central to the Ross Volunteer purpose of service. Ross Volunteers give back because they want to give back and do so with a sense of humility. This mutual desire to serve brings together cadets from all walks of life.
The strong ties with everyone in the company is a big thing, Martinez said. At first it was kind of different to see people come from all different cultures in the Corps, but a few weeks in weve already started to work together and mesh together really well.
For some cadets, the Ross Volunteer Company provides a standard that they are able to live and breathe every day and reaffirm through their actions.
One of the things that I love about the Ross Volunteers is that its a place where people hold themselves to a standard thats been written down, Lovett said. These arent people that do it because theyre told to. These are people that volunteer to do it because they want to be there. And so its hard to find a better group of people who are there on their own will and on their own accord to do the job because they want to do it, not because theyre told to.
The spirit of selfless service, of going beyond the call, defines Aggieland and defines the Ross Volunteers. The sense of giving back what one has been given permeates their culture, and was especially reticent for Bernhard while attending the funeral of Lt. Col Cabrera.
The thing about that event more importantly than anything was the fact that he was an Aggie and his family requested us, Bernhard said. There is no way when you go up to somebodys widow, to really say thank you to them. There was no way I could reciprocate the loss and sacrifice of her husband. That really struck me as a future officer in the military.
These events, though somber, provide a medium for these men and women to bond and grow together, and create life lasting bonds forged through service and dedication that last a lifetime.
Theres no doubt about it. I could not find a single better group of people to call my friends, Lovett said. Being around those guys and girls is one of the most rewarding but humbling times. You see that there are great people in this world and great people in the Corps and just being around them and spending as much time with them as you do, its a privilege.

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