One Woman Army

by / op-ed (9) in Opinions /

You may not know it, but there is a very real military presence on the Middlebury campus. Maybe you’ve seen someone wading through the crowds of flannel and Toms in camouflage and combat boots. Maybe you’ve wondered what the U.S. Army was doing occupying ADK on a Wednesday afternoon. Maybe you’ve done a double-take when you realized there was a soldier waiting in line behind you at the Grille. Wonder no longer, because I’m taking this opportunity to reveal the nature of this military presence: it’s me. I am the one and only member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps from Middlebury, and I’m here to put a name to the face. Or the uniform: I’m Callie to you Midd kids, Cadet Bullion to UVM’s Green Mountain Battalion, and soon to be Lieutenant Bullion to the soldiers I will lead as an officer in the U.S. Army. Over the past four years, I have balanced the life of a student and a cadet. With very little awareness and very little support for Middlebury students who choose this path, it’s a long and challenging journey to embark upon, involving hundreds of dollars in gas spent driving back and forth to Burlington every week, schedules rearranged to accommodate ROTC classes, and countless weekend and summer plans broken to make space for training. You get used to the odd looks, the questions, the inability to put into civilian words what this life is like. Having a foot in these two worlds has never been easy. But it has always been worth it.

To provide a little perspective, let me describe what a typical weekend field training exercise looks like: I wake up at 0400 on Friday morning, roll out of bed, put on my uniform, lace up my boots. I take the hour long drive to 601 Main, ROTC headquarters at UVM, downing an energy drink and a power bar on my way to try to kickstart the weekend. A quick bus ride dozing off against a rucksack packed with three days worth of gear and we arrive at our destination: Camp Ethan Allen Training Site, Jericho, Vermont. Then it’s non-stop training: first aid, learning how to evacuate casualties in a Blackhawk helicopter, day and night land navigation (Ever been given a map, a compass, some grid coordinates, and a flashlight you’re not supposed to use and been told to go out into the woods alone on a moonless, rainy night to find those coordinates? It’s an experience), qualifying on the firing range with an M-16 rifle, a six mile march carrying 35 lbs., and twelve hours of simulated situations learning how to conduct ambushes, attacks and reconnaissance missions. By the third day I am exhausted, running on less than ten total hours of sleep the entire weekend, and looking forward to a hot shower, a good meal and sleep. But first there’s another hour drive south on Route 7 and a pile of homework waiting for me. But despite it all, I fall into bed that night smiling because I have taken another step toward the end state, a dream four years in the making: a gold bar on my chest.

And in just a few weeks, that dream will come true. The day before I receive my diploma, I will raise my right hand, and take an oath that few Middlebury students have taken: “I, Caroline Louise Bullion, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of second lieutenant 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 take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation 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.” With that oath I shoulder a huge responsibility. It’s the responsibility for the soldiers under my command, men and women who heard the call just like I did. It’s the responsibility to always try to do what’s right even when it’s difficult. It’s the responsibility to lead. And this responsibility is a lot heavier than that 35 lb. rucksack. But I look forward to it all the same. I hope this legacy will not end with me, that other Midd kids will continue this quiet but proud tradition of service to a world outside the proverbial “Middlebury Bubble.” Because on that commencement weekend I will be both a Middlebury Panther and a Green Mountain Battalion Catamount, proud to call both my family, unable to have gotten to this point without their love, support and encouragement. Go Midd, Catamounts Lead the Way!

CALLIE BULLION ’14.5 is from Millis, Mass. Artwork by TAMIR WILLIAMS.

  • CrimethInc.com

    Thanks for sharing, Callie, it’s important to know that students are actively involved in gigantic mechanized violence machines.Good occasion to remember that Middlebury College is compliant with the military occupation and active ethnic cleansing of two countries on the other side of the world, and that predator drones still massacre human beings on a daily basis (and with ever-increasing budgets). The war is here!

    All hope is not lost though, we have a legacy of resistance to militarism – Midd students did burn down the ROTC building during the massacre in Vietnam, effectively distancing their campus presence to this day. Callie, you’re a nice person, but ultimately, it would stand more by Middlebury’s values of peace and global compassion to choose a non-imperialistic career path.

    • Anonymous

      All I have to say is please do not pretend you represent all of Middlebury because you do not. So do not use “we” and “Middlebury has a proud tradition” and such. She is serving so you can say these things which is great but please do not label things that deserve no such radical labels that you are throwing around.

  • al-Mu3atazili

    @Crimethink, what ethnicities are being being cleansed? Can you even name the ethnic groups of Iraq and Afghanistan, or are you just using words?

    • Ann Hanson

      CrimethInc is the kind of kid who thinks point ing out the short comings of those around them will make them superior. Sanctimonious fool. The fact is Middlebury wanted that building demolished so they put the ROTC in it, knowing it was quite vogue in that era to burn ROTC offices.

      My question is: Why attend the world’s premier spy school if you believe that drivel about the US around the world?

      The thing is, I don’t think you believe it. I think you say it because your angry for the lot you’ve been cast in life.

  • student

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I was really curious about Midd’s ROTC program; it’s nice to hear a bit about it.

  • Mid

    @crimethinc Are you really so ignorant that you think any sort of American values or way of life (including your ability to study at a higher institution such as Middlebury and be free to express your opinion as you have done here) would be possible without a strong, standing military ready to defend such rights? Perhaps you have forgotten who stormed the beaches of Normandy running towards automatic gunfire knowing full well that any one of those bullets could halt their advance so that they could liberate an entire continent. Perhaps you have forgotten who liberated the Nazi concentration camps. Perhaps you have forgotten who prevented and continue to prevent the oppressive government of North Korea which has violated numerous human rights and continues to today, from expanding across the 48th Parallel and into its Democratic neighbor.

    To Callie, I wish you the best of luck as you embark on your career as an Army officer. Please know that the majority of us support what you do and the rest are simply enjoying the freedoms you defend.

    • Anonymous1

      “freedoms you defend” is a very good phrase that helps sugarcoat the way in which US government uses its military (which without a doubt consists of many remarkable men and women) to invade other countries, establish its geo-political influence around the world and protect its status of the world’s superpower.

      US politicians could not care less about the freedom of american people because they are perfectly aware that the real threats to that freedom are much less significant than they are portrayed by media and the politicians themselves.

    • watchingover.us

      Mid, do the world a favor and go shoot yourself [with a $1.5 trillion annual military budget].

      and seriously, how many lives must you take to protect your miserable office-cubicle ipad freedoms? did u ever take a look at the US death count?

      (genocide of indigenous peoples, aprox. 100 million deaths due to slave trade, ongoing war and aggression somewhere around the world continuously since its foundation, etc etc)

      perhaps you are a majority that supports the madness of us military, that’s why corporate education centers are the assholes of the world, excreting pieces of shit to the porta-potties of ever-globalizing capitalism since before the 1800s.

  • Jack Dolan

    Callie, it takes a mountain of courage to do what you do and a hell of a lot of character to own it publicly at a place like Middlebury. I admire you for the both. Thank you for your service and for the countless sacrifices you make to protect this country.