SALINA – Many of us set out to reach individual goals. Many of us set out to achieve lofty goals. Too often, however, we lack the determination and resiliency to grasp the brass ring, setting our sights instead on more easily sought concessions. Such concessions are not acceptable to Cadet Chase Fitzek.
“I wanted to earn the role of Command Sergeant Major since I first arrived at St. John’s,” said the senior entering his fourth and final year at St. John’s. “When I found out I had been chosen, I was so pumped. I’m so excited to work with the whole Corps of Cadets.”
Learning to Smile Again
For Chase’s mother, Megan Millspaugh, back home in Indiana, seeing her son live up to his leadership potential and achieve his ultimate goal of the position of Command Sergeant Major is not a surprise. Rather, it is an affirmation that the difficult choice to send her son away from home was the right and the best choice for him.
“Before St. John’s, Chase was lost,” said Megan. “He had been through several emotionally challenging situations over the course of a year that set him back academically, including a broken arm and a concussion that kept him from playing baseball, which is his passion. He was angry and sad, and it felt like there was nothing we could do to help him. We started looking at other school options and ultimately decided to send him to St. John’s. It was such a hard decision to send him away to school, but when we went to visit him at parents weekend, he was finally smiling again.”
The Quest for Greatness
According to Chase, it was completing the New Boy period at St. John’s that cemented his commitment to the brotherhood and left him with an even deeper resolve to earn the role of Command Sergeant Major for the 131st Corps of Cadets.
“I knew I could fulfill the role of Command Sergeant Major because I work well with the NCOs (non-commissioned officers),” he explained. “I wanted the opportunity to reach the highest NCO position in the Corps and work with those below me to make them better cadets so that they too can achieve higher goals.”
According to Command Sergeant Major Ray Nunweiler, Commandant of St. John’s, the role of Command Sergeant Major for the Corps of Cadets is an essential role that requires leadership skills and a commitment to achievement.
“The command sergeant major is responsible for the standards within the Corps of Cadets,” said Nunweiler. “He is responsible both for the cadets’ individual standards, such as room cleanliness, uniform appearance, and how the cadets carry themselves, as well as the overall discipline of the Corps.”
Leading to the Highest Standard
To encourage over 100 fellow cadets to achieve the highest possible standards, one must know how to inspire and lead. Cadet Fitzek’s innate understanding of the role of a leader to do what is right—even when it is not the easy or popular decision—makes him well-suited to continue to achieving his goals at the highest level, and motivate those around him to do the same.
“To me, being a leader means making the right decisions and not worrying about what people think or how they see me. It’s about making strong decisions.”
Chase’s mother has always known her son possesses such a selfless ability to lead and inspire.
“Chase has always been an individual,” said Megan. “He fits the role of command sergeant major. He doesn’t get upset if he makes someone angry. He will do what is best and what has to be done.”
Commandant of Cadets Command Sergeant Major Nunweiler and the leaders at St. John’s who were responsible for building the Battalion Command for the 131st Corps of Cadets also saw Cadet Fitzek’s unique leadership potential.
“Cadet Fitzek is a quiet professional. He is the type of young man who can lead cadets and resolve problems,” said Commandant Sergeant Major Nunweiler. “He can change his leadership style when necessary to help solve problems. He has sought my advice in the past when he has needed help, which is also a crucial characteristic for the role of command sergeant major. You can’t feel like you are on an island. You have to seek help when you need it.”
Looking to the Future with a Smile
Cadet Fitzek will never stop reaching for goals at the highest level.
“After I graduate from St. John’s, I’m going to attend a university to major in sports management and play baseball. I want to play Major League Baseball,” said Cadet Fitzek, with a tone that implies utter resolve and decisiveness. For his mother, as long as her son keeps smiling, so will she.
“Not having Chase home with us every day is a sacrifice we had to make as a family, but seeing him smile, I know it was the right decision. We knew we had to save him from himself. As parents, we have to make decisions out of love for our children, not out of what we want as parents. I will forever be grateful to St. John’s for putting a smile back on my son’s face.”