Members of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets will participate in the annual Jaffe Eager Squad and Eager Individual drill competitions on March 24.

Drill, or marching, is a military tradition rooted in the need to move large numbers of troops from place to place in an orderly fashion. Virginia Tech cadets begin to learn drill as soon as they arrive on campus for New Cadet Week, and they continue to practice their skills throughout their cadet careers.

“New Cadet Week focuses on learning the basics of drill and ceremony, and this drill competition is one case where freshmen, sophomores, and juniors are tested as one team,” said Cadet Ben Taitano, commander of last year’s winning Eager Squad team and a senior from Burke, Virginia, majoring in international studies.

“The competition as a whole means many things to me,” Taitano said. “As the squad leader, you get to see your people grow in skill and become one team and one family. It ultimately builds a sense of camaraderie that is only amplified whether you win or lose, knowing you all did your best.

The Jaffe Eager Squad competition will be from 7 to 10 a.m. Each cadet’s uniform will be inspected in front of Lane Hall followed by the marching portion of the competition on the Drillfield. The rain location is the Perry Street Parking Garage.

The community is invited to watch the competition — which will stress precision and unison in motion — but asked to not distract the cadets who are competing.

Each company’s Eager Squad consists of a junior class commander, two sophomore squad leaders, and eight first-year cadets. In addition, a first-year cadet and a sophomore will represent each company in the Eager Individual competition, which consists of a test on cadet knowledge, a uniform inspection, and a test on proficiency in accordance with Armed Standard drill.

The Eager Individual competition will be from 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Upper Quad.

The top freshman is recognized with the Lt. Edward Raney Freshman Proficiency Award, and the top sophomore receives the John E. Hill Memorial Sophomore Proficiency Award.

The Jaffe Eager Squad Trophy, presented to the winner of the Annual Eager Squad Drill competition, is named in honor of the late Jeff Jaffe, a member of the Corps of Cadets Class of 1942. Each of the 11 members of the winning squad is recognized with a cash award made possible by a trust established by Jaffe. 

Jaffe was a member of his unit's Eager Squad when he was a cadet and the experience meant so much to him that he wanted to make sure it was still a meaningful event today. Beginning in 2004, Jaffe donated the money to purchase the trophy and plaque, as well as annually giving the monetary award for the winning cadets.

Members of the winning squad and the two individual winners wear a special patch on their uniform designating their accomplishment for the remainder of their cadet career.

All winners will be recognized at the April 19 Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets Military Awards Ceremony.

The Corps of Cadets conducts the competitions in accordance with FM 22-5, the Army’s Field Manual on Drill and Ceremonies. All rifles used in the drill competition and individual drill inspections are demilitarized, meaning they have no firing pins.

Written by Cadet Mackenzie Morris, a senior from Warrenton, Virginia, majoring in psychology

Share this story