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Insurgent Team History

About 1962 or 1964, Cadet Ed McKinley started the Insurgent Team (IT), the forerunner of the present Ranger Challenge Team and Operational Detachment Maverick (ODM). One of the first few in the nation, the Insurgent Team was started to teach cadets guerilla warfare and insurgency and counterinsurgency tactics.

In the 1970s, the Insurgent Team reached the height of its popularity. The Insurgent Team would rival the Sam Houston Rifles in membership. To the Insurgent Team members, their weekly drills became real. In an article published Feb. 2, 1973, The Shorthorn wrote, “Everything seemed real. Imagination or whatever, one felt that maybe there really was an enemy out there, someone ready to jump up and kill. Therefore it was reassuring to see a soldier clutching his rifle, his eye scanning the bushes for unnatural movement.”

By 1974, the team’s guerilla style combat tactics has captivated the interest of the campus, as evident with a Shorthorn reporter’s March 22, 1974 article on her time spent with the team’s weekend drill in 1974:

“Don’t let anyone tell you ROTC is a breeze. I used to think so – until I spent a weekend with the Insurgent Team at Ft. Wolters near Mineral Wells. The Insurgent Team, an extracurricular activity, specializes in guerilla warfare. Ft. Wolters’ specialty is 20 square miles of sand, prickly pear cactus, dead mesquite trees and clinging, scratchy, wait-a-minute vines. They were made for each other. … Once when we stopped briefly to check our maps, I sat down – on a cactus. Ordinarily, I would have screamed, but by that time I was convinced that if I did, we’d be massacred. Besides, I was too tired. The atmosphere is that real. Everyone takes it that seriously. There is no joking, no lagging behind, no goofing off. Each man does his part and then some. I still don’t thoroughly understand the seriousness. But I know it’s there. And I’m glad. Someday these men may be fighting real battles. They’ll be trained and ready.”

As former Insurgent Team members, Maj. (Ret.) John Glaze and Jimmie Kepler would agree, everything in the Insurgent Team battle field was all out warfare. According to Maj. Glaze, during each of the Insurgent Team’s weekly trips, veterans and prior-service cadets, together with former Insurgent Team members, would come out in support of the team by assuming the role of the aggressors.

In the Spring of 1986, word came that the Ranger Challenge competition, started in the First Region of Cadet Command, was going to be adopted by all regions in the 86-87 school year.   The Insurgent Team considered competing in the Ranger Challenge as UTA’s sole participants but the Cadre stated that the Ranger Challenge team had to be open to all cadets.  Insurgent Team leaders developed a training plan, which the Professor of Military Science approved. The IT then started recruiting and training for the competition.  IT made up the bulk of the team and the Ranger Challenge team trained over a few months prior to the 1986-87 Ranger Challenge competition at Camp Bullis in San Antonio. The Maverick Battalion’s Ranger Challenge team placed last among 16 teams in its first attempt.

For the 1987-88 school year, the IT was again the core of the Ranger Challenge team. Some IT members, especially those not in ROTC, objected to the focus on Ranger Challenge. Despite that, IT leaders formed the Ranger Challenge team, but did not have many IT members trying out.  The Corps Cadre saw the lack of support from the IT membership and questioned why the Cadre would continue to support a “student organization” that wasn’t supporting a mission the Corps of Cadets gave them.  The Professor of Military Science thus withdrew support to the IT to include logistic support (i.e. office space, training weapons, MREs, uniforms, etc.) from the ROTC department.  The IT moved out of its College Hall closet to a shared cubicle in the Student Union for the Spring 1988 Semester.  From there the IT disbanded all together.  After that, the Ranger Challenge became the successor to the Insurgent Team. All Insurgent Team members, however, came away with knowledge and experience that proved useful in life and with a bond of strong comradeship.

Ranger Challenge History

In November 1990, nine cadets represented the university at the Ranger Challenge championship. Amongst them was Cadet Lt. Joan Black, the first female cadet to represent the Corps through the Ranger Challenge team.

In November 1992, the Ranger Challenge team finished fourth at the Ranger Challenge state competition, the highest the team rated in the event’s seven-year history.

The battalion’s Ranger Challenge team was not only tough competitors, but compassionate ones as well. Together with the Texas Christian University Ranger Challenge team, they sacrificed their chance of earning top spots at the annual Apache Brigade Ranger Challenge 10K Road March in October 1993 when they stopped to help a Texas A&M cadet with heat stroke who was subsequently admitted to Darnell Army Community Hospital at Fort Hood in critical condition. 140

In October 1999, the Maverick Battalion sent two teams to the Ranger Challenge. A Team, consisted of juniors and seniors, took 6th place while the freshmen and sophomores team, B Team, took 17th place. For the Mavericks, 6th place wasn’t enough.

In October 2000, the Maverick Battalion sent two teams to compete in 5th Brigade's 11th annual Ranger Challenge competition at Fort Hood, TX. The Maverick Battalion teams were among 20 teams who entered the competition. Team Alpha took first place, while the Team Bravo placed seventh. The team's motto that year was "So What." It was the team's answer to any challenge thrown its way.  Cadet Brian Kammerer, a prior service, ranger qualified, E-7, developed the rigorous training schedule and led the teams. The team members were as follows:

Team Alpha

  • Brian Kammerer
  • Joel "Aaron" Brown
  • Mitchell "Mitch" Hedderly
  • James Warden
  • Alex Haley-Liu
  • George Dillon
  • George Bolton

Team Bravo

  • Jay Bradley
  • Matt Ziobro
  • Josh Schneider
  • Milton Valasquez
  • Melvin Giron
  • Cadet Strebeck
  • 7th Cadet

Cadre Sponsors

CPT Robert Jean
MSG Vincent Staromana "Star"

Operational Detachment Maverick (ODM) History

[1] The above history is based upon two sources: “The Legacy of the University of Texas at Arlington Corp of Cadets, Post-WWII years onwards” by Esther Wong and a note from LTC (Ret) Greg Trnka, the last IT commander.   Esther Wong’s paper is on this website’s History page and she provides extensive footnotes for her information sources.  I have regretfully omitted her footnotes in this brief, informal history due to formatting problems.  I have extracted, merged and edited information from both for brevity and clarity.  Welcome additional information and photos of the Insurgent Team or Ranger Challenge teams: 


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