Burch prepares for career in the U.S. Army
Contact 1: Erin Chesnut
MARTIN, Tenn. — Remington Burch started his freshman year at the University of Tennessee at Martin two weeks later than his classmates, but not for reasons one might expect.
Burch, now preparing to start his junior year, joined the Tennessee National Guard while still in high school and was training with his unit when the UT Martin fall semester began in 2015.
“I went to basic training between my junior and senior years of high school, and then I went to my advanced training between my senior year of high school and college. So I actually arrived at UT Martin two weeks late. It was basically test time when I got here, so I had a lot of catching up to do,” he said.
He hasn’t let the late start slow him down though, and now the Trenton native is a third-year cadet in UT Martin’s ROTC Program – known as Skyhawk Battalion – and recently completed Air Assault School at Ft. Benning, Ala. There, he learned to rappel out of helicopters, load equipment into a special sling to be carried by helicopters, and inspect those slings and equipment for proper installation. He and his fellow trainees also completed almost two weeks of grueling physical and mental exertion.
“It’s actually called the 10 toughest days in the Army because you’re constantly going. Probably one of the hardest parts of Air Assault School was knowing that at any time you could be sent home – not restarted, but sent home completely – and having your buddies beside you start disappearing throughout the training because they’re going home,” he said. “Even on the last day when we knew that all we had to do was the final 12-mile ruck march and the final inspection, even when you knew that in four hours you could have your wings, I was still worried that something would happen.”
Burch was the only UT Martin ROTC cadet to attend Air Assault School this year. He received an honorable discharge from the Tennessee National Guard last fall to allow him to compete against his fellow ROTC cadets for an active duty commission upon graduation.
“Active duty is very competitive. After your third year, you go to advanced camp, and you are assessed. … Then, in the fall of my senior year, I will find out if I get active duty or not,” he said. His selection for and completion of a special program like Air Assault School will go a long way toward securing a higher cadet rank and an active duty assignment.
“They do what are called assessment points where you are assessed on everything from your GPA to your PT (physical training) score to how well you actually work with others and how well you do at advanced camp. Then they give you a number,” said Burch. “It all depends on the needs of the Army. So if they say, ‘Ok, the top 60 percent will get active duty this year,’ … the other people would go to the reserve components.”
Burch will rank the infantry and aviation units high in his preferences, but his ultimate assignment will also depend on the needs of the Army at the time of his commission.
Being part of the ROTC Program takes dedication and discipline, traits Burch displays in abundance.
“It really comes down to how much effort you put into it,” he said. “It’s not necessarily hard because I enjoy it. I don’t see it so much as a burden but as an opportunity. Even though we have to be at PT at 6:30 every morning, Monday through Thursday, after doing it then you’re just waking up at normal time. It’s not as hard as some people would say it is if you actually want to do it.”
Burch is studying criminal justice and hopes to complete a 20-year military career before applying his degree in the civilian world.
PHOTO ID: Remington Burch, of Trenton, is a junior at the University of Tennessee at Martin.