LT.COL.SHAWN PHELPS, UCLA ROTC, at WVRC on February 10th
I’m becoming convinced that every time JOHN WOODALL gives the Invocation, my tape recorder fails to perform and it did it again, sorry to report. Anyway, JOHN spoke first about the minor mystery surrounding St. Valentine. There isn’t much mention in history of who this might have been but YOE would guess it must have been a happy person. (Note I didn’t say HE, in deference to political correctness!) JOHN then offered the Invocation, which goes unrecorded, sorry to say. MARK BLOCK came up to lead the Pledge and Four Way test. RICK BROUS supplied song slips, and we did the first verse and refrain of the Official song of the U.S. Army. We all remembered the tune, anyway.
We had one of our more frequent Visiting Rotarians, Renato Romano, who hails from Beverly Hills. PEGGY was with her helper. JOHN HEIDT asked if anyone had a useable wheelchair, since he had a specific inquiry. After some back and forth, a querulous voice asked, “Do you need to use it right away?” That’s what you would have to identify as Community Spirit!
President GORDON announced an excellent upcoming program at Wilshire Rotary. The speaker will be Louis Zamperini, who was an Olympian in 1936, and ran for USC. His talk will be autobiographical, and one major highlight is his story of survival for THIRTY days in an open raft during the War with Japan. He will be speaking at El Cholo, this next Thursday evening starting at 6:30. The address is 1121 S. Western, and the cost is $24.00. This sounds like a really worthwhile talk.
PP CHRIS BRADFORD introduced our Speaker, Lt. Col. Shawn Phelps, who is the Commanding Officer of the UCLA Army ROTC Program. Col. Phelps received his commission through ROTC at Washington State University in 1989. He’s had an impressive and varied military career, which includes service at Ft. Lewis, Washington, Erlangen, Germany, Ft. Benning, Georgia and Camp Stanley, Korea. During his time in Germany, he spent 4 years as the Executive Officer and Chief of Army and Navy Strength Management for the US European Command JI. He was selected to serve as the Chief of Contingency Planning Branch in the European Plans and Operations Center.
Col. Phelps has received numerous awards including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, both the Expert and Combat Infantryman’s Badges, and the Ranger Tab. He is married to the former Thuy (pronounced “Twee” Diamond of Tacoma, Washington, and they are the proud parents of Justine, 19, and Tawny, 15. And CHRIS, YOE has to tell you once again what a great job you do on these intros…
Col. Phelps began by noting that he was imbued with a spirit of service by both his parents, who were teachers. In addition to his UCLA responsibilities, he also teaches at Cal State LA, where there is a smaller ROTC unit. In addition, he has students at Northridge, and Pepperdine, who must take their ROTC classes at UCLA. In the case of Marksmanship, this involves a four-hour roundtrip, in order to fire 40 rounds - which of course becomes a test of commitment. The four Purposes of the ROTC Program are, in order, Recruit, Develop, Retain, and finally, Commission those cadets who serve under him. Note that only 23% of the general population within age limits are eligible, so recruiting is always a concern. The Program offers 2, 3 and 4 year scholarships, which can cover room and board, or tuition, but not both. The scholarship pay for 1st year is $300, 2nd year $350, 3rd year $450, and 4th year $500 per month.
The cadets perform PT (that’s physical training, for you non-military types) for an hour daily, and he notes that, at age 43, he hangs in there with them. (Just between us folks, YOE has the strong impression that Col. Phelps is one hell of a leadership example).
Q&A Since cadets are accepted on a permanent basis after their 2nd year, what % continue? 98.6% become 3rd year. Why are so many in the age group ineligible? Overweight is a major hurdle. He has had a cadet lose 70 lbs and another, 52 lbs in order to qualify. Any speeding ticket over $250 keeps you out and ALL speeding tickets now cost more than $250! What is the length of service after being commissioned? 4 years active, plus 6 years’ reserve, and 2 year inactive reserve. What does a brand new 2LT earn? About $32,000 plus housing and other applicable allowances. His final statement, 'All of you can help me recruit!'
And, as all of you are fully aware, YOE would NEVER go beyond normal promotion rules, except I gotta say this guy is a real salesman and example.