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Training for success

Photo by Al Zdarsky.

Dan Oesterheld, a cadet enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Northeastern University, has earned a prestigious award in leadership from the United States Army for his performance at Warrior Forge 2011, a 29-day Leader Development and Assessment Course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

This summer, more than 6,900 cadets from more than 1,100 colleges and universities participated in the course, the successful completion of which is required to become commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

In July, Oesterheld ranked No. 1 among nearly 500 cadets in the 8th “Automatic” Field Artillery Regiment after a series of assessments that tested physical endurance and team-building skills. He completed 71 push-ups in two minutes, ran two miles in 12:06 and successfully led his fellow cadets through a series of simulated training exercises.

Oesterheld was presented the Association of the United States Army Leadership Excellence Award at his graduation ceremony. He also received a ceremonial Army saber in recognition of the achievement.

Oesterheld’s selfless attitude fueled his success. “No matter which cadet was leading the group, I was always giving 100 percent,” Oesterheld said. “When it was my turn to take charge, everyone else wanted me to succeed.”

The experience, he said, has reinforced the value of teamwork. As Oesterheld put it, “The biggest thing I learned is the importance of everyone doing his or her job. Everyone has to be focused and aware of what’s going on in order to accomplish the overall mission.”

After graduation, the fourth-year criminal justice major plans to be commissioned as an infantry officer. The September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers, he said, had inspired him to join the military.

“It seemed like the right thing to do, especially when all of this stuff interests me,” Oesterheld said. “I have parachuted out of planes and rappelled out of helicopters, but leading 40 soldiers with an infantry platoon right out of college is a life experience I wouldn’t get anywhere else.”