History of Squadron 18

Final Review 2003Executive Officer Julius Jackson '03 (left), Commander Noel Freeman '03 (center),
Guidon Chris Adams '05 (right)

Squadron 18 was activated on September 23, 2002 as a replacement for a special unit known as "Frog Platoon" which had operated for many years to train non-traditional or out of cycle cadets that were commonly referred to as frogs.  

Frog PlatoonTraditionally, Frog Platoon was active only during Freshman Orientation Week.  Frog cadets would receive specialized training during the day and spend evenings with their home outfits.  At the end of FOW, frogs would train full time with their home outfits and Frog Platoon would remain inactive for the remainder of the year.  This method of training was inconsistent and ineffective for out of cycle cadets, and fostered an attitude among cadets that frogs had no place in the Corps and should be run off.  This attitude was famously displayed in the 1943 motion picture We've Never Been Licked.  Generations of animosity toward out of cycle cadets led to an average attrition of more than 75% for decades and out of cycle cadets were rarely recruited.  During some years attrition reached 100%.

As a result of training problems and high attrition that had persisted for generations, Commandant of Cadets LtGen John Van Alstyne '66 chose to establish a full-time outfit in the Corps designed specifically to train out of cycle cadets for a full semester as traditional Corps fish.  The designation of "Squadron 18" was used because it was one of a large number of Corps units that had been deactivated during the restructuring of 1959 and was not viewed as true reactivation of an outfit.  At the end of that semester, the cadets would be accelerated to their appropriate class year classifications and other regular outfits could recruit Squadron 18 cadets to join them.  A small regular contingent of upperclass cadets would be maintained for continuity of training and operations.  It was a new model of training unlike any ever seen in the Corps of Cadets' 125-year history.

The Executive Officer of Frog Platoon, Noel Freeman '03, was selected to be the first commander of Squadron 18 due in large part to his experience training military personnel while on Active Duty in the US Air Force.  Freeman, himself an out of cycle cadet, was joined during the Fall semester by Jessica Richardson '04, who served as First Sergeant.

The first year was especially difficult for Squadron 18.  The Fall semester started with only two upperclassmen and five fish, and Squadron 18 was met with significant opposition from some Corps leaders who subscribed to the historical notion that out of cycle cadets should forced out of the Corps.  LtGen Van Alstyne put the full support of the Commandant's Office behind Squadron 18, which significantly stemmed the tide of opposition.

In the Spring semester, Squadron 18 grew to four upperclassmen with the addition of Julius Jackson '03 as Executive Officer and Kevin Eubanks '04.  Several fish were retained as sophomore cadets to assist with training of the new class of fish cadets.  Additionally, Freeman had developed a new training program to recreate the FOW experience for cadets entering in the Spring and convinced the Commandant and his staff to give Squadron 18 the chance to make it work.  The program was Spring Orientation Week, or SOW and began as four days of intense training and indoctrination.  It was a resounding success and was immediately implemented on a permanent basis.

A total of 20 fish cadets entered Squadron 18 during Spring semester 2003, and by the end of Squadron 18's first year of existence, the attrition rate of out of cycle cadets had dropped to only 25% for the first time in known history.  Three of the first cadets trained in Squadron 18 later went on to be squadron commanders: Travis White '06 (SQ 18), Josh Senneff '06 (SQ 23), and Ryan Cate '06 (SQ 5), which was the largest number of commanders produced by a single outfit for the Class of 2006.

As Squadron 18 began to rapidly accelerate toward becoming one of the fastest growing, best performing outfits in the Corps of Cadets, the original recruiting plan was put into effect and Squadron 18 was permitted to aggressively recruit current Texas A&M students instead of only first year and transfer students.  In less than 10 years, Squadron 18 was regularly recruiting nearly 50 new cadets each semester and was the best recruiting outfit in the entire Corps for several years running.

As a result of the incredible success of Squadron 18, the sheer volume of new cadets began to outgrow the ability of a single outfit to manage training and operations.  In 2012, another outfit, Company K-1, was transitioned to serve the same mission Squadron 18 was created for.

Today, Squadron 18 continues to set standards for training and provides the Corps of Cadets with a steady supply of top-quality leaders.  SOW continues and was expanded to a full week to more adequately resemble FOW.

 

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Squadron 18 Fightin' Phantoms
Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Squadron 18 and its alumni