Freedom has always simmered in the hearts of the American people—those who left the hearths of the Old Countries to seek religious freedom, those whose blood and sweat mingled together on the battle field for freedom, and those who today live in the thankfulness that freedom was won.
Behind the ever-present beckon for freedom in every generation was the soldier, rallied around the Stars and Stripes, willing to lay aside life itself for our great country. The very idea swells hearts with patriotism. The American soldier today completes extensive training to prepare him or her for the variety of roles the military would require.
Maranatha helps students become soldiers by providing a Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program on campus.
Early into his sophomore year, Accounting Management major Paul Shirk met with one of his business faculty members, Captain Kirk Mensch, to discuss his potential need to transfer. Maranatha did not offer an Army ROTC program, and Shirk had researched finishing his undergraduate education at UW-Madison for the sake of enrolling in such a program. Mensch suggested a different idea: forming a satellite program at Maranatha through the Badger Battalion that met at UW-Madison.
For the program to be successful, the Badger Battalion would have to agree to accept, fund, and support a program at a comparatively tiny school nearly an hour away. Maranatha in return would have to accept the program and begin offering academic credit for ROTC classes and, of course, recruit quality cadets.
After the affiliate paperwork was signed and the curriculum was put in place, Shirk became the first Maranatha cadet to contract into the new program on June 2, 2006. The Charlie Company would face challenges soon, though. Maranatha did not have any full-time on-campus instructors, so while cadets worked out their physical training on campus, they had to make early-morning trips to UW-Whitewater (Bravo Company) every week for their labs.
In the fall of 2007, Captain Derrek Schultheiss became full-time Assistant Professor of Military Science at Maranatha and Shirk became the Detachment Commander. Maranatha gave the program a permanent building on campus, and once instructors were qualified through the Leadership Development and Assessment Course, Charlie Company began running a truly self-contained program. Under Schultheiss’s direction, this core group of leaders molded Charlie Company for the future classes of cadets.
Becoming “Rock Solid”
“Maranatha falls under the University of Wisconsin, Madison ROTC program,” explains Assistant Professor of Military Science Captain Jonathan DeGreeff. “It is composed of four total universities: MBU is the third company, which is alphabetically labelled as ‘C Company,’ or ‘Charlie Company.’”
One of the first cadets of Charlie Company created the theme “Rock Solid” for itself. “This slogan, which is yelled, or ‘sounded off’ at the beginning and end of each formation, influences the ROTC culture to be ‘rock solid’ in its morals and conduct at all times,” explains DeGreeff.
“I have personally learned dedication, integrity, and respect through the ROTC program,” says current Biblical Studies major PJ Tanglao. “It takes dedication to juggle classes with our military training, and I’d be lying if I said it was easy. It takes integrity to get your responsibilities done on time and to do the right thing when no one is watching. I’ve learned respect for those who go through this experience beside me, respect for those above me investing in me, and respect for those who’ve taken this commitment to serve before us.”
In November 2016, the Charlie Company received its fifth consecutive victory at the Ranger Challenge competition at Fort McCoy, bringing Maranatha’s overall total to seven first place victories and one second place victory. The color guard has made numerous appearances at special events including one at the swearing-in ceremony for State Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, and one for State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly.
Maranatha alum, Elijah Walters (’14), said of his time in the ROTC, “The Army will teach you everything you need to know about your assigned job. What makes MBU different is living in a Christ-centered environment where you can see all sorts of people working for God’s glory in a variety of professions. MBU taught me to pursue excellence in order to make God look good.” Walters was the first cadet ever branched as an Engineer, a field normally reserved for engineering majors, and he received a saber upon graduation for being the top cadet in the Battalion.
The American soldier has changed since the romanticized image of the boy-who-became-man on the beaches of Normandy, and yet the military’s foundation of honor, justice, bravery, and the fight for freedom remains never-changing.
The Oath of Office
Quoted by each cadet upon being commissioned:
I do solemnly swear
that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States
against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States,
that I make this obligation freely,
without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion,
and that I will well and faithfully
discharge the duties of the office
upon which I am about to enter,
so help me God.