By Sid Hall, Military Affairs Coordinator / ROTC Program Manager
Northwestern State University’s Department of Military Science conducted an Activation Ceremony for the 74th Demon Battalion on Aug. 24. The military tradition allows the commander to assess the readiness and discipline of the unit and commemorates the unit’s history and lineage. ROTC’s curriculum and training ensures Cadets’ scholastic, athletic, and leadership abilities are developed and tested, preparing each for their unique career paths.
“We are extremely excited for the new year. Not only is this our largest freshman class in over 25 years, but these Cadets are strong academically and physically,” said Lieutenant Colonel Josh Drake, professor of Military Science. “While we do not expect all of them to contract with the Army, although it would be amazing if they did, the Demon Battalion has boundless potential. It is an honor to teach and mentor them as each Cadet begins their lifelong journey.”
Joining the program this semester are Erica Babers of Natchitoches, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Rachel Bell of Shreveport, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems; Jamar Benjamin of Natchitoches, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice; Kyra Cole of DeRidder, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology; Mya Dunn of Shreveport, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Miguel Flores of Ball, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering Technology; Megan Franchino of Santa Rita, Guam, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering Technology; Camryn Huff of Leesville, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; TaLayja Jefferson of DeRidder, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and Angelina Jones of Lafayette, Scholars’ College, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology; Grace Kerney of Barksdale Air Force Base, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.
Also joining are Malaiah Ledet of Alexandria, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Jemena Leopoldo of Vivian, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science; Miriam McDaniel of Natchez, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Jacob Mullican of DeRidder, Scholars’ College, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in History; Ariel Rhodes of Shreveport, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Jackson Sabbides of Pineville, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biology; James Shelton of Lafayette, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration; Molly Stelly of Lafayette, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and Corneilya Williams of Leesville, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Devonte Tanner and Cameron Willett are students at Louisiana State University-Alexandria. NSU’s Department of Military Science serves as their ROTC host program.
Also new to the Demon Battalion is Demarkus Lawson of Fort Johnson, pursuing a Master of Science in Homeland Security. With over three years as an enlisted soldier, Lawson joined the program under the Army’s Green to Gold program. After completion of the program and graduation, he will commission as an Army officer.
The Demon Battalion Commander and Command Sergeant Major, Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Loren Higginbotham and Cadet Command Sergeant Major Andrew Wesley, attached the streamer of the 74th Demon Battalion symbolizing the activation of the Battalion.
This year’s Battalion staff includes Battalion Executive Officer, Cadet Major Arianna Astorga of New Iberia; Battalion Operations Officer, Cadet Major Brendan Campbell of Pearland, Texas; Personnel Officer, Cadet Captain Jan Amutan of Bossier City; Intelligence and Recruiting Officer, Cadet Captain Caiden Matthews of Shreveport; Logistics Officer, Cadet Captain Breanna James of Stonewall; Communications Officer, Cadet Captain Brooklyn Guerra of Abbeville; Physical Training Officer, Cadet Captain Peyton Bordelon of Alexandria; and the Battalion’s Color Sergeant is Cadet Todd Gladish of Willis, TX.
In his remarks, Higginbotham offered this advice to the new cadets.
“This program is what you make of it. Apply yourself and push to exceed the standard. Work to make each day better than the last and embrace the family we have established here,” he said.
Cadets were then recognized for their summer achievements.
ROTC Advanced Camp is a 35-day training event designed to develop cadets’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills and forge them into tough, adaptable leaders who can thrive in ambiguous and complex environments. Higginbotham, Bordelon, Astorga, James, and Wesley completed Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Army ROTC Basic Camp is a 32-day training event designed to develop cadets’ leadership skills, train them on individual and junior leader tasks, and develop and reinforce the Warrior Ethos and Army Values. Cadet Lawson Turner of Haughton completed Basic Camp at Fort Knox.
Sophomore cadets stand in as the “enemy” on the opposing forces to facilitate Advanced Camp field training exercises. Cadet Christian Holmes volunteered for this duty, which will help to prepare him for Advanced Camp next summer.
Cadet Troop Leader Training provides the opportunity to shadow Army officers and learn first-hand how active duty units operate and conduct training. Three Demons participated this summer:
Cadet Astorga served with the 92nd Civil Affairs Battalion, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Fort Liberty, NC.
At Fort Riley, Kansas, Cadet Bordelon served with the 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division and with A Company (Black Cats), 3rd Battalion (Assault Helicopter), 1st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade.
Cadet Wesley served with Commanche Troop, 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment (Garry Owen), 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
The scope of the Army Air Assault School is to train on missions performed by rotary wing aircraft, aircraft safety, aero-medical evacuation procedures, pathfinder operations, principles and techniques of combat assaults, rappelling techniques, and sling-load operations. Cadets Higginbotham and Matthews were recognized for earning their Air Assault wings. Both agree with the school’s moniker, “The Ten Toughest Days in the Army.”
Before closing out the ceremony, Wise Family Foundation Scholarships, established by the family of Major General (Retired) Erbon W. Wise of Sulphur, were awarded to first-year Cadets Jamar Benjamin, Megan Franchino and Molly Stelly.
Information on Northwestern State’s ROTC program is available at
Pictured above ROTC Activation: NSU Demon Battalion Commander Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Loren Higginbotham, left, and Cadet Command Sergeant Major Andrew Wesley (facing away), assisted by Cadet Todd Gladish, left, attached the streamer of the 74th Demon Battalion symbolizing the activation of the Battalion during an Aug. 24 ceremony.