Cadet of the Year

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One weekend a month, while his friends may be sleeping in, going off to their part-time jobs, shopping or seeing a movie, Matt Dorman goes to some intense training.

The Albert Lea High School senior joined the Naval Sea Cadet Corps when he was in ninth grade.

“I was on the Navy Web site and there was a link to the Sea Cadets,” Dorman recalled. “So I e-mailed the two closest units, one in Minnesota and one in Iowa. I heard back right away from the Iowa unit. Two weeks later, I was in training.”

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Dorman said he’s always had a desire to serve in the military. His grandfather, J.R. Dorman, served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

For him, Sea Cadets was a way to get started. The Congressionally chartered U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps was established in 1958 and is open to all youth ages 10-17 that have an interest in an adventure program with a military structure. The objectives of the Sea Cadet program are to introduce youth to naval life, to develop in them a sense of pride, patriotism, courage, and self-reliance. There are approximately 10,000 youths nationwide participating in the program.

Dorman said about 20 students attend the weekend trainings either at Camp Dodge or in Marshalltown, Iowa. There are also four Marines on hand, acting as instructors.

In addition to one weekend a month, nine-day trainings are held during school breaks.

In the trainings, Dorman said he learns a lot about teamwork. “It’s good to work with all the cadets,” he said. “It get a lot of experiences I wouldn’t get if I weren’t in the program.”

He said the longer he is in the program, the more leadership opportunities there are to take advantage of.

He admits there are times he wishes he didn’t have the commitment. “But I’m always glad I went,” Dorman said.

He said he’s able to explore different aspects of the Navy through the Sea Cadets, like hospital corpsman, diving and SEALs.

“It would be good to go in knowing what I’d like to do,” he said.

Dorman is seeking an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He’s been working on the appointment since last summer and got his nomination from Congressman Tim Walz. “Each congressional district has five spots at the academy,” Dorman explained.

He said if he is not accepted, he has already been awarded a Navy ROTC scholarship to the University of Minnesota. “I would enter as an ensign,” he said.

“I’d like to make the Navy a career,” Dorman said. “It’s what I enjoy doing.”

At the annual unit inspection on March, Dorman was named Region 7 Sea Cadet of the Year.

The Regional Cadet of the Year award is the highest individual cadet award at the regional level. In addition, Dorman was awarded the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal. This award is presented to a graduating cadet who has demonstrated dependability, good character, military discipline, leadership and a fundamental patriotic understanding of the importance of Sea Cadet training. His parents and grandparents were on hand for the presentation.

Unit Commanding Officer Lt. Cmdr. Eric Goslinga said, “This is a high award given to a deserving young man. CPO Dorman exhibits all of the qualities we strive for in our cadets. I am confident he is well positioned to begin his Navy officer career.”

Nominees for Cadet of the Year are selected based on several criteria, including: cadet rank attained, number and type of advanced training activities, ourses completed, contributions to unit and regional training activities, military bearing and appearance, scholastic achievements, outside activities and previous awards received.

Dorman said he was surprised by the award. “I was proud,” he said. “I worked hard.”

He has no regrets about getting involved in the program.

“This is just what I was meant to do,” he said.