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Four Years at the Mount

Junior Year

Sergeant David Conroy

Julia Mulqueen

(Feb, 2011) When I entered Mount Saint Maryís ROTC program as a wee freshman, I was fully unprepared to encounter Sergeant First Class David Conroy. Never before in my young life had I met someone who possessed such a wide array of knowledge and who had experienced so many things. The wonderful thing about SFC Conroy is that he is readily willing to share his knowledge and answer any questions one might have. He works hard to prepare young cadets for their future roles as leaders, and he is indeed a great asset to the Mountís ROTC program.

SFC Conroy arrived at the Mount in the summer of 2008. Before that he was stationed at Aberdeen Proving grounds in Maryland where he served as a Platoon Sergeant, instructor/writer, Drill Sergeant, and division chief. He initially joined the Army 22 years ago as a young man looking for adventure and a little cash for his pocket. He chose to branch as an engineer, because he was always tinkering with cars and building things at home. It was a natural fit for him, and he quickly excelled, leaving behind his home state of Maine for the unknown.

Coming to a university setting just a few years ago to help train future officers was certainly a shift for him, but he says that so far it has been, "truly a great experience to watch the cadets grow and see them learn and prepare them for their future employment while they go through school." SFC Conroy does admit that the experience was a little bumpy at first. He explains that he had to take a step back and look at things. He had to realize that he "was not dealing with soldiers who had been to basic training, which teaches the basics to soldiers-things like how to walk, talk, eat, dress, think, and even how to shoot weapons." This meant that he had to recognize that he was working with young men and women who were going to college first. The Army seems years down the road to the cadets he trains. He quickly adjusted though, and is happy to have a hand in training Americaís future soldiers.

Part of Conroyís duties as the Mountís Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge include flying out to Fort Lewis, Washington to assist with what is called Leadership Development and Assessment Course during the summer months. The course is what he calls the "Super Bowl for cadets." It is a time for all the third year cadets to come together over a period of about 30 days to undergo assessment and find out where they are ranked nationally. For Conroy, the experience was initially nerve-racking as he did not know what to expect, but he says, "I was quickly put at ease when I hit the ground and found the system in place was easy to adhere to." His time there was spent as a platoon tack, which meant that he was like the parent to about 50 cadets for 30 days, making sure they were in the right place at the right time. He describes the experience as "almost like being back at Aberdeen and receiving a fresh new class of privates from basic training."

SFC Conroy has certainly had his fair share of proud moments and fond memories even from just two and a half years of working at Mount Saint Maryís. Last May, he had the privilege of watching five seniors graduate from the Mountís ROTC program. He was ecstatic to see them stand on stage and hear the cheers and claps for them from the entire university. Conroy was blissful just knowing that they were in the program he teaches and that he had a hand in helping them get to that moment. More recently, SFC Conroy watched junior Cadet Daniel Davis play pass with Billy Ray Cyrus on FedEx field before a football game this fall. He drove Cadet Davis and three other cadets down to the field to present our nationís colors before the game started. He describes the entire event as a very fond memory.

In fact, SFC Conroy may not wear the uniform for much longer, however. He is preparing to retire next year, and he admits that it is scary to think about life after the Army. He is "so used to a structured, military work environment in a uniform that it is difficult imagining adapting to a different job." No matter what the future holds though, he is excited to embrace further challenges and experience new opportunities, but he admits he will miss training ROTC cadets at the Mount. For now, he remains a vital resource for cadets and an exceptionally knowledgeable member of the Mount community.

Read other articles by Julia Mulqueen