Category Archives: In Their Own Words

Middle schoolers set sail across Teardrop Lake in cardboard boat

On May 4, with plastic-wrapped paddles fashioned from lacrosse sticks, five students and history instructor LT Kevin Bissmeyer set sail across Teardrop Lake in a cardboard boat.

Cadets who braved the maiden voyage were seventh grader Robert Abbott and eighth graders Kevyn Bruce, Jordan Hornick, Isaac Gastelum and Nehemiah Simmons.

painting“The boys designed and built the boat themselves, with a little help from myself and Coach Bissmeyer,” CPT John Noel said. “We used over 600 yards of Duct Tape, three gallons of Elmer’s glue and over 150 pounds of cardboard.”

According to Noel, the project was devised to simulate the famous crossing of the Delaware River by George Washington. The attack, which was depicted in a well-known painting by Emanuel Leutze, IMG_20160428_215108_123surprised the Hessian and British forces in 1776 during the Revolutionary War.

“Named The Christmas Nightmare after the events of the Battle of Trenton, which occurred on Christmas, this cardboard beauty was constructed sporadically over a two month period by the 8th grade social studies classes of CPT Noel and myself,” Bissmeyer said.

Cadets originally intended to participate in the Float for the Food Bank race April 30 but
were unable to attend due to inclement weather.
28_best_bissmeyer_hornick_simmons_gastelum_abbottThe boat sailed for 6 minutes and 27 seconds before it was dragged ashore by “deck hand” Guido Arredondo ’20. The vessel teetered a few times during the voyage, but no passengers fell into the water.

“I didn’t know cardboard could float,” onlooker freshman Sergio Contreras said. “It was fantastic how it could actually float.”


Building the boat was hard and took time and patience — waiting for the glue to dry and cutting everything out and putting Duct Tape on. Kevyn Bruce ’20

The hardest part was when we first started, because we didn’t have an idea of what should we do. Enrique Acevedo ’20

Building the skeleton of the boat. We had to make sure it was super stable. Jordan Hornick ’20

group_hornick_simmons_gastelumi_abbott_bissmeyer_bruce_arredondoDID YOU EXPECT THE BOAT TO SINK?

I thought it would sink. Michael Naughton ’20

After I saw the boat was complete, it looked sturdy and huge so I knew the boat would float. Kevyn Bruce ’20

I expected it to float, but only for a short bit of time. Jordan Hornick ’20

Yes, because was cardboard and there were a lot of people in the boat. Enrique Acevedo ’20


8I was proud of … the boat and it was a success. Kevyn Bruce ’20

Surprised. I didn’t think we would’ve made it that far. Jordan Hornick ’20

I felt great because the boat didn’t sink and it was worth it. Enrique Acevedo ’20

For video of the boat launch, click here.


Valentine Weekend Highlights


Eight cadets and two staffers joined 160 fellow participants and took the Mexico Polar Plunge on February 13 at Plunkett Park.

“A group of cadets took on the challenge of plunging into a cold lake during freezing temperatures,” Jonathan James ’16 said.

12711282_1692471871034231_4954453163730649556_oKiwanis Lake was frozen over except for a small chunk cut out for the Plunge. The temperature high during the Plunge was 22 degrees.
MMA donated $500, which contributed to the weekend’s total donations of $24,000 toward Special Olympics Missouri. SOMO provides a year-round program of sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

Because I love doing charity fundraisers. JONATHAN JAMES ‘16
I took the Polar Plunge because it was for a good cause. JEREMY ELKINS ‘17

12698395_1692471391034279_7404412611269964716_oHOW DID THE WATER FEEL?
The water was so cold that it stung you. It was a rush of cold that went through your body. JONATHAN JAMES ‘16
The water was definitely below freezing. … After I got out, I couldn’t feel my feet for an hour so it must have been really cold. My whole body went numb after I dunked my head. NOAH WEBSTER ‘18
I think the water was like 1,000,000 degrees below zero. It felt like my whole body was going to freeze! My hair froze and I couldn’t feel my feet or my hands for almost an hour. JEREMY ELKINS ‘17

Yes. It was a lot of fun and we overcame our fears. JONATHAN JAMES ‘16
I might do it again if I get the option to. JEREMY ELKINS ‘17

IMG_1592_hacker_albertsenUKULELE DUO

At the Valentine Ball on February 13, amateur ukulele enthusiasts and MMA sophomores Otto Albertsen and Noah Hacker entertained cadets, staffers and their families with love songs “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and “You and I.”


I first attempted to play the ukulele last year, when a friend lent me his for me to try and play a song I had heard. Winter break 2014 came around and I began teaching myself the acoustic guitar. After falling in love with the instrument, I decided I wanted something a little more portable and easy to take with me anywhere I go. I received a new Córdoba over the 2015 winter break and I have instinctively played it every day since. OTTO ALBERTSEN ’18

I’ve played ukulele for only two months now. My parents got me a ukulele of Christmas for a present and I immediately fell in love with it. I’m basically in love with the sound and style of the ukulele — its tropical, cute and happy tone. NOAH HACKER ‘18


The song I played was called “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” I heard the original by Elvis Presley far before I even picked up a ukulele. I always enjoyed the song but it wasn’t until I heard a cover by my favorite band that I decided I wanted to learn it. OTTO ALBERTSEN ’18

The ukulele song I played was called “You and I.” My mother and I used to listen to the song when I was young. But after years rolled by, I forgot the song existed. I remember hearing the song again on a commercial. It basically was memory lane with the song, so I decided this was the perfect song to play for the dance. NOAH HACKER ‘18

Playing for the Valentines Ball was a good experience, considering it was the first time I had played the uke in front of an audience. I was very nervous leading up to the performance, but
when I stood millimeters away from the mic, I kind of forgot I was even playing. OTTO ALBERTSEN ‘18

IMG_1590_albertsenI felt very nervous at first going up on the stage. I was afraid of people judging me on how I played. But I just decided I’m not going to allow someone’s opinion to affect the things I love the most. I want to motivate people to be themselves for what they love and what they enjoy without people judging them and affecting them. We can’t let people how they think of us effect who we are. NOAH HACKER ‘18 

All kinds of music are my favorite. NOAH HACKER ‘18 


Saddle Up: Inside MMA’s Horseback Program

IMG_8291_sheldon_huntMissouri Military Academy students enrolled in the equine program not only step into the stirrup but step into the world of veterinary science.

During the fall session, cadets watched as a farrier demonstrated how to trim for a balanced foot. According to horseback instructor Julia Hunt, students also participated in “a Q&A session on why quality hoof care is a very important aspect of equine health. No hoof, no horse!”

Cadets enrolled in the winter session visited the Mexico Animal Hospital to shadow Dr. Jessi Ross, DVM, and view microorganisms including round worms, tape worms and strongylidae.

IMG_8441“We observed live equine parasites under the microscope,” Hunt said. “The next step is for the students to de-worm our horses for these parasites.”

During the spring session, students tried their hands at colt breaking and helped vaccinate the MMA horses for flu, tetanus, and diseases such as the West Nile Virus which are caused by biting insects.

“Every horse has something to teach. Every human has something to learn,” Hunt said.


On May 21, cadets Paul Murphy ’18, William Moore ’18 and Justtin Muilenburg ’17 competed in the first Missouri Military Academy rodeo.

The program began with the recitation of the national anthem and included a “salute to the soldiers” presentation. Moore, wearing a traditional soldier’s uniform, circled the fence while Muilenburg paid homage to the many soldiers — and their horses — who died in the Civil War.

“They, just like soldiers, died fighting for this country,” Muilenburg said. “In one day, at the Battle of Burden, seven thousand horses were killed.”

Cadets next competed in two timed contests — barrel racing and pole bending.

Muilenburg took first place in the barrel racing and pole bending competitions while Murphy and Moore took home a third and second place ribbon each. The rodeo wrapped up with an egg carry competition — Moore held his the longest and was declared the winner.

CADET Q&A: junior Joshua Ryan Campbell of Memphis, Tennessee, and freshman Joseph Perry Palen of Cheyenne, Wyoming

IMG_8423_palen_BESTWhat is the best part about being in the horseback program? Why?

The best part about being in the horseback program is how patient the teachers are – because it has taken a while for the horse to get used to me and it was hard to make the horse listen to me at first. PALEN

The best part is seeing back campus and enjoying a smooth ride because it’s relaxing. CAMPBELL

Which MMA horse is your favorite? Why? What do they look like?IMG_8390_campbell

I think my favorite horse is Fancy, because she is the one I ride every day. She is brown with a black stripe going down the middle of her back and black on her belly. PALEN

Lady, because I got to have her last year as my horse and she is the lead horse. She is white with black dots all over her. CAMPBELL

How did you feel the first time you rode a horse? How do you feel now?

When I first rode the horse, I was nervous. And I could tell that is was making the horse nervous too, so I tried to calm down. Now I’m not as nervous anymore, and I can tell that the horse is getting used to me, too. JOSEPH PALEN ‘19

IMG_8266_campbellI first rode a horse when I was 6. I feel very confident about my skills in horseback. JOSHUA CAMPBELL ‘17

What is the hardest thing about horseback riding? What’s the best?

The hardest thing about riding is when you’re learning how to ride the horse. It takes a while, and even when you think you’re done with training, or your teacher tells you you’re done with training, you’re not really, in a way. There are a lot of things to learn even years after the first time you ride a horse. The best thing about riding is discovering those things – discovering the things that you never knew, or even expected. PALEN

IMG_8361_palenThe hardest thing about horseback riding is controlling them. The best thing is when you get to lope them. CAMPBELL

What do you think horseback riding teaches you? Why?

For one, it gives you more strength when you’re throwing the saddle onto the horse’s back. And you discover how [to] lead, even [if] you had never experienced leading anything before — whether it be a platoon, company, battalion. PALEN

Horseback teaches you how to focus and take control so you don’t fall off. CAMPBELL



Three MMA seniors – Oscar Cortada, Weitao Cong and Fahad Aliev – studied and swam for nearly 40 hours over four days to earn their lifeguard certification.

SONY DSCStopping only for meals, cadets trained from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, September 11; from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, September 12; and from 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 13 to 4 a.m. on Monday, September 14.

17_cortadaCadets met the requirements to earn a two-year Red Cross Life Guard Qualification. Challenges included a CPR/AED course, a 300-meter swim, a brick test, and a two-minute endurance test in which students treaded water without their hands.

HOW TO SAVE A LIFE, by Drake Davis ’16

ALIEVI got my lifeguarding certification from the American Red Cross in the summer of 2014 in Rolla, Missouri.

I was saved while on vacation when I was a kid. That day, I experienced the thoughts that run through the minds of those struggling to stay above water. I started going down due to my inability to stay above water. I started submerging and was terrified. I felt a hand, then an arm come across my chest to my armpit, bringing me back up and returning to the shoreline. I started crying when I got out. I was shocked but so grateful for the lifeguard (hero) that saved my life. That was my game changer, and I made up my mind to eventually pursue the job of a lifeguard when I got older.

IMG_3045_davisWhen I accomplished the goal I set out for, I knew it was my turn to share the abilities I had learned and help people that struggled in the water. I worked at an indoor swimming pool called The Centre and an outdoor swimming pool called Splash Zone for half a year.

Eventually, a place that I was familiar with turned into a public water park. It was a quarry owned by the chief of police of Rolla. I swam there when I was a bit younger. The police kids and their families would come and hang out. The chief asked me to come out there and lifeguard. I was stoked.

When I showed up to the quarry, formally known as Fugitive Beach, I saw there were other lifeguards around the age of 20. They introduced themselves to me. The head lifeguard took us to the 15ft and 20ft cliffs to practice scenarios: submerged drowning victims, struggled swimmers, and swimmers injured from the contact with the water. All of which I’m trained for. I’m also trained for CPR.

IMG_3891_davisAfter training, which went on every day before and after work for about three weeks, I was in a routine. Mondays through Fridays, we saw around 1000 to 1500 people. The highest record was 4,567 people if I remember correctly. We had 8 lifeguards that day, but we were so busy. I remember my eyes constantly looking everywhere. I have made a total of 8 drowning victim saves and one CPR save this year.

The CPR save was towards the end of my lifeguarding at the quarry. A week before coming to MMA, when I was on my 15 minute break, I was in the break room with my walkie-talkie. I heard that a guy had experienced low blood sugar due to diabetes. I took off running through the sand on the beach, making my way to Tim, who was hunched over in a seat and unresponsive to communication.

I told the civilians around me to back up and told another lifeguard to get an umbrella to cover him from the sun. I saw a civilian with some juice and got one. Unable to drink from the straw, he fell head first in the sand. I kept him up as much as possible. While he was on the ground, I laid his body in the Haines position and elevated his feet.

IMG_0385_davisTwo nurses that were swimming there came up and identified themselves at this time. They started cooling him off with wet, cold rags. I was laying in the sand next to him talking to him, keeping him listening, just looking for signs. He then stopped breathing and I knew what had to be done. Not wearing my fanny pack, which has my respiratory mask in it, I started doing mouth-to-mouth.

I had a nurse assist me in a two-person CPR rescue. As I did my two initial breaths, she did her thrusts. Going on around three rounds, I gave my breaths and he received a pulse. I started tearing up, but pulled it together knowing I had to stay strong.

We put him back in the Haines position. I kept talking to him, telling him the ambulances were going to be here soon and to keep listening to the sound of my voice. Repeatedly I told him him he was going to be okay, to hang in there. I told him to give me a good deep breath in hopes of a sign. I saw his lungs expand and was so happy to see his response. I kept having him do that until the ambulance arrived.

After he was lifted off, I went back into the break room and started tearing up. It reminded me of when I saw my grandma die in front of me. I wish I would have known CPR then. I got sent home, but was getting handshakes from a lot of people. I found out later from my dad that Tim had survived and sent me his gratitude. I will never forget that day.

In Their Own Words: Railsplitters at Camp Clark

Missouri Military Academy’s World War II re-enactment group, the Railsplitters, traveled to rural western Missouri for a weekend re-enactment of the Battle of the Bulge.  LTC Tim Scherrer, Railsplitters coordinator, provided an account of the weekend’s events from both an MMA and a World War II soldier’s perspective.  Click the link in the story to see more photos from the weekend.

“The Railsplitters Living History Company participated in the 2013 Battle of the Bulge recreation at Camp Clark near Nevada, MO.  The event was held January 18-20 and had near perfect weather for January, although it is odd not having snow on the ground for a Battle of the Bulge recreation.

Overall the company fielded 29 troops, including two rifle squads, a scout/sniper section, and a support element.  We had 13 MMA cadets and two Mexico High School JROTC cadets.  One squad was lead by Illinois State Army ROTC Cadet Art Avery and the second, MMA alumnus Kyle Hughes ’12.  Kyle is transferring to Marion Military Institute this summer and attending Army ROTC leader training camp, so he is pursuing a commissions as an officer too.  Also attending was former MMA student Jordan Uthe.

Missouri Military Academy Railsplitters

The company did four missions.  The first was a movement to contact although the enemy had already occupied the crossroads so it became a hasty attack.  We were able to push the Germans off the objective quickly by using high ground with Art’s one squad and Kyle led a terrific flanking movement that pinned the Germans against a barrier.  The second mission we defended a town and hilltop.  We were destined to lose by the scoring system, but the company gave a good accounting of itself.  Tyler Grogan ’13 as the designated marksman was able to barricade the road leading into our position through sniper fire.  The third mission was to recover a downed parachute of supplies.  The victor got a box of Hershey bars.  We found the parachute in 17 minutes, much to the dismay of the umpires who gave the mission 90 minutes.  The final missions was an attack on a bridge in which Kyle’s squad gained some key high ground which dominated the bridge, causing resistance to collapse quickly.  By the end of the day, we had humped about 8 miles and were glad to be off our feet.

PHOTOS:  More action from Camp Clark

On Saturday night we had a visit by “‘Splitterclaus.”  The Battle of the Bulge was fought during Christmas 1944.  I had 84th vet Allen Howerton state he had a similar visit on Thanksgiving of 1944 from a Santa who brought him his Thanksgiving meal in Germany.  We also watched two period films, Buck Privates and This is the Army.  We all believe that the star of This is Army, Reagan, will never amount to much of anything but a B film actor.

Overall I was very proud of the cadets, and the company overall.  We performed very well in the field and did many things that re-enacting units never do, like serve hot chow in the field.  They set the standard and we received many compliments on the Railsplitters’ performance and authenticity.  The only complaint I received was they weren’t very quick to take hits and die in the field…and I am OK with that.

A big thanks to MAJ Mike Shoemaker and Paul Petit, Sr. for being such a help on the trip.  Cadet Hugh Harris ’15 took all the pictures and did a great job with them.