By Katie Weitkamp/The Studio editor
The son of a colonel, Ryan Knapp had no idea that not everyone’s father was in the army until one of his friends told him his father was a banker. “I just thought that everyone’s father was in the army,” Knapp said. “I just thought that was the way it was supposed to be.”
Looking to his own future, he wants to keep the family tradition, which has been alive for at least three generations now.
Over the summer Knapp was sent to London, England by the Reserve Officer Training Corps for a week of weapons orientation with the British Army.
During that week he was trained to fire, take apart and assemble an SA80, the standard British rifle. He also learned about and was issued British equipment before being sent to a two week camp in Dartmore for training. The Dartmore camp is comparable to the U.S. advance camp given to college students in the ROTC between their junior and senior years.
The camp was lead by British officers who are in a branch similar to the U.S. special forces.
Knapp was one of 40 people in the U.S. chosen to go to the camp in Dartmore.
“It’s a pretty competitive, pretty hard school to get into,” Knapp said. He celebrated the Fourth of July in England, which was met with mixed reactions by the British.
“I had guys tell me that they let us win the revolution,” Knapp said. “I kind of felt like nobody really liked us, but there were a couple of guys there that were active army that just loved America.”
On the Fourth of July one of the officers made the British Army sing “Happy Birthday” to the Americans.
Knapp said his time in England was well spent, he said he learned a lot about how the British Army works, which he can bring into his services in the U.S. Army.
After he completes his degree in Criminal Justice at Eastern, Knapp plans to spend four years active duty in the army, but he says he isn’t scared of a possible war.
“I think that would be horrible,” Knapp said saying it’s hard to practice for something if you don’t get to act out on it.
“It’s like practicing for a football game. You spend all your time practicing but you never ever really get to play that game. Well, (now)we’re given the opportunity to play that game, and we’re going to do it.”
He knows what it’s like to be in a military family and says he doesn’t want to keep his family on the move.
“I’d like to get married and settle down one day,” Knapp said. “Unless I marry someone who likes to move around a lot, I’d like to stay in one place.”
As a child he moved with his family all around the U.S., Germany and even to Panama.
While moving around he said he got to see a lot of exotic places, but that wasn’t always fun.
“In Minnesota we got snow days where we wouldn’t have to go to school,” Knapp said. “In Panama we got bomb threat days so we wouldn’t have to go to school. It was serious but everyone was happy that we didn’t have to go to school.”
To stay in that one place, he wants to get a job with special forces in the police system, preferably dealing with drug problems.
“I think drugs ruin a lot of lives and I’m really interested in helping cut back on that problem,” Knapp said.
This summer Knapp will go to advance camp with his comrades in Eastern’s ROTC. He said after bonding with the group here he would be proud to fight along side of any of them.
“We got the best ROTC program in the state, maybe the nation,” Knapp said.
He also said that Eastern’s ROTC has won several competitions and scored high in challenges and camps.
“Everybody on this campus should be proud that guys (in Eastern’s ROTC) are going into the army to fight for their freedom,” Knapp said.