Conner Morschauser grew up in a military family, moving from state to state, deciding early that the military life wasn’t for him.
Though he knew his parents loved the life through the hardships and there were exciting opportunities involved in all the moves, Conner Morschauser had no intentions to pursue the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps or military life.
When it came time for the North Carolina-based high school senior to choose a college, he took the best schools academically and lined them up with ESPN’s football schools. Auburn arose as a potential option.
After a visit, Conner Morschauser knew Auburn was where he was supposed to be.
“I toured nine schools, and then it came down to just Auburn,” Conner Morschauser said. “I really liked it, but again, my dad was in the service, so out-of-state tuition was kind of not really an option.”
He hatched a plan with his parents since Auburn was where he wanted to attend.
He would spend a year in ROTC and attend Auburn under scholarship. If he still didn’t like ROTC at that point, he could drop it and continue with his other plans.
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Three years ago, Conner Morschauser entered Auburn as a freshman in nutrition with 4:45 a.m. wakeup calls, five-mile hikes and a new uniform.
“Growing up a military kid, it’s a lifestyle that I absolutely loved, and I’m so thankful I grew up in it, but it’s something that I thought I didn’t want myself, and until you put this uniform on, you don’t realize exactly what it is,” he said. “So it’s one of those things where you have to actually live it to actually get the appreciation for it.”
After a year ended, Conner Morschauser realized that ROTC and a military life was where he was supposed to be. Now, Morschauser is acting as Auburn’s battalion commander and received his branch, infantry.
His father, Bob Morschauser served 30 years in the military before retiring and said he was very proud of his son’s choice.
“He’s seen and lived the late hours, field training time and combat deployments that kept me away from him, his mother, and his sister,” Bob Morschauser said. “His response was that he has a desire to serve his country, and that’s a hard argument to counter.”
Throughout his experience he has not just pursued a degree in business, handled life in a fraternity and built friendships, but he has also had some amazing experiences in ROTC.
“You know the cool thing about just waking up Monday, Wednesday, Friday with the same group, you get super close,” he said.
However, as a freshman, Conner Morschauser experienced some of the same challenges other freshmen face.
“Your peers are staying up until 2 o’clock in the morning, and you know, they’re waking up for their 11 o’clock class, and they’re still tired, and you’re over here studying the same amount,” he said.
ROTC students also have an extra class and lab to take in addition to their regular major courses.
As students progress in ROTC they are given more opportunities. Conner Morschauser was also selected for the CULP Program in Madagascar and worked side by side with their troops.
Because Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, he realized that some of those soldiers didn’t even have helmets, and the experience allowed him to put his own complaints into perspective.
Conner Morschauser was also able to go to air assault school, a 10-day program in which students learn to rappel from helicopters as well as go to West Point to go through training.
The culmination of ROTC training is advance camp, which Conner Morschauser completed in the summer of 2018.
“It’s kind of like taking the MCAT or like the LSAT or something like that,” he said. “It’s kind of an assessment to get your branch and stuff like that.”
Now, acting as battalion commander, Connor Morschauser has a chance to pass down what he’s learned to the younger cadets.
Leadership is something the program is trying to increase, allowing sophomores to mentor freshman, juniors to mentor sophomores and seniors taking positions of leadership in the battalion.
“Your senior year, you’re about to go into the actual force so they want you to see the planning aspect of it,” Conner Morschauser said.
After advance camp, the seniors have a sense of responsibility to prepare the juniors as they head into their own program.
“You have that kind of pressure, you want to make sure these juniors are actually ready to go,” he said.
The senior has put in three top choices for where he wants to end up after his Auburn graduation: Kentucky, North Carolina and Italy.
Having grown up in a military family, Conner Morschauser is more prepared than some might be for the life of moving around and the hardships that accompany the lifestyle.
Bob Morschauser had some advice for his son as he prepares to leave Auburn and enter the military life.
“First, I’ll tell him to be proud of what he’s accomplished at Auburn and to cherish the friends and memories he’s made over the past four years,” Bob Morschauser said. “Then, I will tell him to stay humble, to listen to his non-commissioned officers whom he may out-rank in position and responsibility but not in experience and to embrace the privilege of serving with and leading some of the finest men and women our country has to offer.”
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