TIMARU, New Zealand --
Marines and coalition forces visited New Zealand Army and Air Force Cadets during exercise Southern Katipo 2013 aboard Timaru Christian School, New Zealand, Nov. 20.
Marines, United States Army soldiers and New Zealand Defence Force service members drilled with cadets during their weekly parade, pinned four cadets selected for promotion and answered a variety of questions about career paths in the military while visiting the school.
2nd Lt. Amos Sutcliffe, commander of cadets with the Timaru Cadet Unit, said the parent organization of the cadets is the New Zealand Army, which directs the activities and mentality of the school.
“What we have here is a youth organization with a military flavor,” Sutcliffe said. “Any opportunity to present our young guys and girls the opportunity to see what happens behind the scenes of our parent organization, we try to take advantage of it.”
The cadets range from 13 to 18 years of age and have been involved in the organization for different periods of time. At the event, every member took advantage of his or her first interaction with so many different services.
“We haven’t really seen a lot of different militaries to give us an idea of what’s out there,” said Cadet Tegan Robertson, member of the Timaru Cadet Unit. “So seeing all of the different services was really cool and fun as well.”
Sgt. Greg Wubben, a civil affairs non-commissioned officer with 1st Civil Affairs Group, felt just as honored as the cadets to have the chance to come together and celebrate developing military passions during SK13.
“You could tell they appreciated that we took the time to come here, but if anything, I appreciated them just letting us come and be apart of their ceremonies,” Wubben said.
Even at such a young age, the cadets crave the responsibilities and duties of the service members they idolize.
“They wear the uniform,” Sutcliffe said. “They desperately want to be part of it, and in small gatherings such as this, it gives commonality they would not otherwise get.”
1st Lt. Adams Lowe, military police officer with 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, said the cadets who know what occupation they want puts them ahead of others planning to join a military force.
“When I first wanted to go into the Marine Corps, I had no idea what military occupational specialties were available to me,” Lowe said. “I thought it was all infantry, so for these kids to already know what they want to do really surprised me.”
SK13 presents a variety of opportunities for different nations to interact over a wide range of age groups and experience levels. The trip to the Timaru Christian School is one of many examples of the strengthening of camaraderie between the U.S. and allied nations.
“To see the collaborative interactions that are taking place on our streets, to hear the affections of the local people, exercise Southern Katipo has been nothing but a positive experience,” Sutcliffe said.