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Cadet Revels in Role of Blending Training With Compassion

While Cadet Austin Askew can be seen prominently in front of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets at each morning’s flag formation, it is what he has done behind the scenes that defines him.

Beginning with his election as cadet member at large for the Class of 2022, Askew has been at the center of upholding the traditions of Virginia Tech while also evolving them for the next generation of Hokies.

During his junior year, Askew served as the first sergeant of Hotel Company in the Corps of Cadets. In this role, he led the training of two dozen first-year cadets.

But for Askew, that role was more personal to him than just meeting the basic training requirements for his cadets. The previous summer, his brother had enlisted in the Army, and Askew realized that the new cadets under his charge could one day be his brother’s platoon leader.

Master Sgt. Johann Herzog, senior military science instructor with the Army ROTC New River Battalion said, “Cadet Askew really cares. What I mean is that he has compassion for his fellow cadets and tries his best to put their needs before his own while also holding them accountable.”

This academic year, Askew led 2nd Battalion and its 350 cadets in the fall and is leading the entire regiment of over 1,200 cadets this semester. In both positions, he has sought creative ways to engage those under his charge.

Retired Army Col. Craig Alia, a deputy commandant in the corps, said, “When talking to another cadet about Cadet Askew, that cadet remarked, ‘He makes me want to be a better version of myself.’ What better compliment is there for a young leader?

“He is a leader of character who other cadets seek to emulate,” Alia said. “He inspires those around him and leads from the front and by personal example. Those are the leadership traits that will make him an outstanding commissioned officer.”

Raised in Wimberley, Texas, Askew considered West Point and Liberty University among others for his path to a commission in the U.S. Army. “I chose Virginia Tech because it was a melting pot of opportunities, combining a world-class education with a nationally recognized military training program,” he said.

Askew knew Virginia Tech was the right place for him when he found himself at the memorial service for Ensign Sarah Mitchell, who graduated from the Corps of Cadets in 2017 and died during a Navy training exercise in 2018. As a first-year cadet, the ceremony at the Pylons to unveil Mitchell’s name proved especially poignant for him. “Standing with 1,000 people who all felt the same, we bonded with each other without speaking,” Askew said.

Another memorable experience of his time at Virginia Tech was cheering himself hoarse during the six-overtime football win over North Carolina during his sophomore year.

Askew will commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army when he graduates this week with a degree in business information technology in the Pamplin College of Business. After getting married on graduation weekend, he will head to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to train as an artillery officer. After that, he will head to his first duty assignment with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

When asked his biggest impression of his four years here in Blacksburg, Askew said, “We sometimes take what we have here for granted. We have an opportunity to challenge opinions and disagree in the classroom yet walk out of the classroom able to respect each other.”

Written by Jamie McGrath

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