From staff reports George Mauzy
Army ROTC Cadet Alex Chernushin is a star among stars.
The Ohio University senior is one of only eight cadets in the nation this year to earn the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross, a prestigious award recognizing academic and military excellence and exceptional leadership in both the Army and university communities.
But Chernushin is far from alone.
The Bobcat Battalion sent 22 seniors this summer to the 2008 Leaders Development Assessment Course (LDAC) in Fort Lewis, Wash., and nearly 70 percent came away with "excellence" ratings. In fact, Ohio University's program became the only one of 272 ROTC programs in the nation to exceed Army cadet command averages in all recorded LDAC training events for eight consecutive years, an honor ROTC officials consider comparable to an intercollegiate sports program qualifying to compete in a national championship for eight years in a row.
LDAC is a six-week mandatory camp that evaluates cadets in the areas of physical fitness, leadership, marksmanship and land navigation skills. Cadets' LDAC scores help determine their final ranking on the Army's national Order of Merit list, which determines their priority for assignments after they graduate and become commissioned officers.
"LDAC is a comprehensive assessment of everything senior cadets know as they enter their final year of ROTC," said Maj. John Hansen, an Ohio University assistant professor of military science. "Basically, it puts all of the cadets in high-pressure situations and grades them on how they apply their skills in practical exercises. They even test the cadets on how well they follow others when they're not in charge."
Lt. Col. Bill Hauschild, Ohio University's Army ROTC Battalion commander, said only about 40 ROTC programs exceed the cadet command averages each year at LDAC, so for Ohio University's battalion to do it for eight straight years is truly astounding.
"I am only in my third year as commander, so I inherited a great, quality program that was successful before I arrived," Hauschild said. "No one person gets the credit. It is a great example of the quality of our students, our instructors and our program."
Chernushin and four other Bobcats -- Jared Fliegel, Bryant Knef, Eric Richards and Connie Theobald -- recently ranked in the top 20 percent on this year's national Order of Merit list, and all five earned the title of "Distinguished Military Graduate." Chernushin ranked 52nd, putting him in the top 1 percent of more than 4,400 cadets nationwide.
The Legion of Valor Bronze Cross that Chernushin earned goes to two out of every 1,000 eligible cadets in a region. To be eligible, cadets must be entering their senior year, rank in the top 25 percent of their ROTC and academic classes and exhibit excellent military and academic leadership skills.
"Chernushin is the poster child for what the ROTC wants in a cadet," Hauschild said. "He scores the maximum on the physical training tests, has been a standout on our Ranger Challenge Team, has great organizational and leadership skills, and his grades are strong enough to compete for a nationally competitive award."
Chernushin has a 3.84 GPA as a finance and business economics major and is active in the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity and the Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society. He also has received two Superior Cadet Awards, given to cadets who rank in the top 25 percent of their academic and ROTC classes.
"I've wanted to be an Army officer for as long as I can remember, so I'm very proud and honored," Chernushin said. "I have been fortunate to have phenomenal military science instructors like Capt. (Daniel) Akbar and Sgt. 1st Class (Brian) Detamore the last two years, and I give them a lot of the credit for my success.
"Army ROTC has really made me a better person," he added. "It has provided me with valuable leadership experience in addition to a great deal of financial support throughout college."
A native of North Royalton, Ohio, Chernushin will work as an Army engineering officer after he is commissioned this spring.
This story was edited on Oct. 3, 2008 for accuracy.