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GREAT LAKES, Ill. -- Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy's only boot camp, announced Feb. 7 it has opened Recruit Division Commander (RDC) positions to Reserve Sailors for the first time.
The first classes of Reservists are now going through RDC C School: a 13-week long, physically challenging, intensive hands-on training course that prepares prospective RDC "blue ropers" with the skills, perspective and physical readiness to be a recruit division commander. "Expanding the opportunity to serve as a recruit division commander to reservists opens up a rewarding career choice to more Sailors," said Leanna Boyer, manning officer for RTC. "It also assists us in filling the billets needed to be fully manned."
Reservists accepted to go through RDC C School can serve between 18 to 36 months. Prior to being considered for duty at RTC, Sailors are extensively screened and recommended for duty by their current commanding officer. Once at boot camp, they are evaluated and trained to the same caliber as active duty Sailors by a team of seasoned and rigorously screened RDCs that make up RTC's RDC C school instructors.
"RDC C School training has remained the same for everyone," said Chief Gunner's Mate (EXW/SW/AW) Hector Rios, RDC C School instructor. "We do not look at Reservists any differently; a Sailor is a Sailor, active duty or not."
Reservists currently in RDC C School said they are excited that they were given a chance to forge the future of the U.S. Navy.
"I jumped at the chance when the job was offered," said Aviation Machinist's Mate Flight Engineer 2nd Class (NAC/AW) Jose Maldonado. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
"Being an RDC is the ultimate giveback," said Chief Information Systems Technician (EXW) Rebecca Powell. "It is rewarding training recruits for a career that has given me so much."
RDC C School students go through a drill phase, which teaches them proper handling of guidon, cutlass and flags. Then the students go into the admin phase, where they are taught all of the managerial functions and processes of an RDC.
The next phase is STAR which covers folding and stowing, compartment and personnel inspections as well as dynamic material inspections. This includes the lockers and the way the gear is folded and stowed.
During leadership training they are taught how to be firm and how to build an effective recruit chain of command.
The final phase of training is the shadow phase. "Blue ropes" follow recruit divisions to observe training given by qualified RDCs.
"RDC C School has been very challenging," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Shane Christensen. "It has been a great experience; I've learned a lot."
Being a good example for recruits to emulate and never forgetting what a recruit is going through while in boot camp are among the top lessons Master-at-Arms 1st Class (EXW) Elizabeth Honeyager has learned in school.
"Being a reservist, I bring a different perspective to recruit training," said Honeyager. "I hope to become a great mentor to all the recruits going through boot camp."
For recruits entering RTC, their RDCs are the first people they encounter that will prepare them to accomplish the Navy's mission.
"The impact these RDCs are going to bring is invaluable," said Rios. "They are going to have a huge impact on the recruit's life and the future of the Navy."
Recruit Training Command, located in Great Lakes, Ill., trains more than 37,000 volunteer civilian recruits annually, transforming them into basically trained Sailors.