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Pipe Creek cadet earns prestigious award


Tarleton State University U.S. Army ROTC Cadet Joshua Bitzkie, from Pipe Creek, receives the Recondo badge from Maj. Gen. Christopher Hughes, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky.

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Just 38 U.S. Army ROTC cadets in the nation earned the coveted Recondo badge this year. Tarleton State University’s Joshua Bitzkie is one of them.
Bitzkie, a geosciences major from Pipe Creek, claimed the honor at ROTC Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky, earlier this month.
“I didn’t go to camp with the goal of getting awards,” Bitzkie said. “I went there to learn and to do the best I can. I joined ROTC to do my part.”
Bitzkie said earning the award was the result of teamwork.
“I had the best platoon,” he said. “The way we worked together and the motivation made a huge difference. I had a lot of support around me.”
To receive the Recondo Badge, a cadet must complete the Army physical fitness test and the land navigation written exam, as well as successfully navigate five of six points in the “night into day” land navigation course. Additionally, cadets must receive a “go” on all confidence course events and first aid and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazard training, qualify as an expert marksman, and complete the 12-mile foot march with a 35-pound rucksack within three hours.
Lt. Col. Marty Deckard is in charge of Tarleton’s ROTC program. “It is a great honor to have one of only a few cadets worthy of Recondo here at Tarleton,” Deckard said. “Cadet Bitzkie’s accomplishment is a reflection of the hard work, dedication and commitment of all cadets here, but most importantly, it signifies his mastery of basic soldier skills.”
The badge is named for the Army’s intensive patrolling and raiding school, developed by Gen. William Westmoreland in 1958, and honors top-achieving cadets at summer Advanced Camp. The Army’s largest training exercise, Advanced Camp, is the U.S. Army Cadet Command’s capstone training event. The purpose of the 29-day course is to train U.S. Army ROTC cadets to Army standards, to develop their leadership skills and to evaluate their officer potential. Most Army cadets attend Advanced Camp between their junior and senior years after having contracted to join the Army. Successful completion of Advanced Camp is a prerequisite to becoming an Army officer through ROTC.
Tarleton, celebrating 100 years as founding member of The Texas A&M University System, provides a student-focused, value-driven educational experience marked by academic innovation and exemplary service, and dedicated to transforming students into tomorrow’s professional leaders. As a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) with campuses in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian and online, Tarleton engages with its communities to provide real-world learning experiences and to address societal needs while maintaining its core values of tradition, integrity, civility, leadership, excellence and service.