It was a unique spectacle at Niagara University on April 14 as four United States Army Blackhawk helicopters touched down on the university’s rugby pitch to escort ROTC cadets to Fort Drum for a military training exercise.

The helicopters arrived at 1:30 p.m. to transfer 80-85 ROTC cadets from Niagara University and Canisius College to Fort Drum for a three-day leadership training.

“The integration of aviation assets into the training has bolstered the excitement level and anticipation of the cadets, most of whom have never ridden on an Army aircraft,” noted Lt. Col. Gary Love, chair of NU’s military science department.


This year’s JLFX training focuses on events that place cadets in adverse situations among a group of individuals they’ve just met, thus testing their leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. The cadets are not told how to carry out the tasks, so they must adapt to varying conditions to complete each mission.

“Throughout the school year, we have had many leadership practical exercises to give the cadets a basic understanding of platoon tactics as well as basic soldier competencies,” added Lt. Col. Love. “We have held multiple training events, such as land navigation courses and platoon-level training lanes.”

The cadets returned to campus – again via Blackhawk helicopters – on April 17, landing to a warm reception from a group of about 50 supporters, many toting welcome signs.

To learn more about the Niagara University ROTC program, please visit

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