At the end of last year the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Boise State welcomed two new officers to their team, Captain Aaron Croft and Major Nathan Patrick.
When students begin the ROTC program they are cadets until they finish the program and graduate when afterwards they commission into becoming an officer of the United States Army.
Croft joined the ROTC staff in December of 2013, though he didn’t go the normal route of becoming a commissioned officer. Instead of doing the ROTC program, Croft was directly commissioned after receiving his master’s in public administration.
“Because they needed a certain group of officers pretty badly, they waived that requirement,” Croft said on not doing the ROTC program.
Normally Croft is on the Army reserve, working a civilian job. Working for the ROTC program at Boise State is considered an active duty job for Croft. He will be on this program for nine months.
Patrick also joined the ROTC team in December of 2013, though Patrick isn’t new to Boise State. He graduated from Boise State while participating in the ROTC program, though it wasn’t his initial intent.
“I was going to school here and I ran out of money and ideas all at the same time,” Patrick said. “Lucky for me, there was an Army Captain from the ROTC here and he overheard me talking to a friend about not having any money to come back to school the next semester, and he said ‘hey, I hate to interrupt, but have you ever considered joining the Army?’”
When Patrick heard that the ROTC would pay for his schooling he was hooked. Beginning his studies in education Patrick remained on that course with receiving a degree in elementary education.
“It’s nothing I ever dreamed I would be, but looking back on it I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Patrick said.
Though joining the Army came with some choices.
“You can walk everywhere you want to go or you can fly? Well hell, I don’t want to walk everywhere, so I’ll fly,” Patrick said.
That is how Patrick got started in flying helicopters.
Both officers have spent time deployed. From 2009-2010 Croft was deployed in Afghanistan. There he worked as a civil affairs officer.
“Civil affairs officers help conduct operations that would benefit both the civilian operation and the U.S. Army,” Croft said.
Croft worked with locals towards building health clinics, schools and improving their governance.
“It’s kind of like the happy side of the Army,” Croft said.
From 2007-2008 Patrick flew helicopters across Kuwait and Iraq, transporting people and equipment. Patrick will be working for the ROTC program for the next two years as an executive officer, working alongside the professor of military science and teaching classes to the sophomore cadets.
“I want to be able to give all the cadets here as much of the knowledge as I’ve gained over the last 10 years—good and bad,” Patrick said.
During his nine months at Boise State, Croft hopes to help the cadets grow and become great officers.
“If they work hard and do their very best they’ll be great officers and be able to make a difference in the world,” Croft said.