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Student Spotlight

Beyond Camo and Campus

Army ROTC cadets interested in graduating college as a commissioned offer are required to complete summer training. So this past summer on a hot and humid day at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Brigham Young University student Aidan Fryar looked across his unit and noticed a teammate in need of help. “I took my struggling teammate to the side and worked him through it,” Fryar explains.

Fryar pictured with event organizer as he receives the Patton Award.
7th Regiment, Advanced Camp, Graduation, https://www.flickr.com/photos/armyrotc/53091104101/in/album-72177720309462743/, Photo courtesy of Nathan Abbott, August 3, 2023.

For this display of leadership, among others, event organizers awarded Fryar the Patton Award, which distinguishes a single cadet out of roughly 600 who demonstrated confidence, boldness, dash, and daring during a time of crisis.

During the summer training, Fryar also earned the reconnaissance commando badge. The badge is awarded to cadets who demonstrate terrific individual skills like land navigation, rifle shooting, and others. Reflecting on these awards, he says, “I’ve become who I am today because of the people I’ve surrounded myself with in the ROTC.”

Early on in life, Fryar aspired to serve the country as a Navy SEAL. “I was a stereotypical adrenaline junky. I did a lot of rock climbing, cliff jumping, and slacklining,” he says. “I felt like being a Navy SEAL could be something I loved.”

As he looked toward a career in the military, Fryar gained a foundation in service by observing the generosity of his parents. In high school, Fryar’s best friend encountered struggles in his house, and Fryar’s parents welcomed the friend into their own home for a year. “This was a big sacrifice for my parents. Their example of service has stuck with me for my entire life,” he says. His parents’ actions have inspired Fryar to always prioritize service as he pursues his goals.

Some of Fryar’s friends also struggled with substance abuse. His experiences with his friends provoked his interest in mental health and psychology, which he decided to study in college. He explains, “I hope to help people who struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues. I have a passion for helping those people.”

Aidan Fryar sprinting during a drill.
Aidan Fryar competes in a variety of physical challenges in the Army ROTC.
Photo courtesy of Aidan Fryar.

Nearing high school graduation, universities and other organizations offered Fryar scholarships for college. Instead of accepting the scholarships, he decided to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Looking back, each of my decisions to make other people a priority all resulted from my decision to serve a mission,” he says.

While on his mission in the Philippines, he often contemplated whether joining the armed forces was the right decision for him. One day while studying The Book of Mormon, he experienced a feeling of reassurance about pursuing his dream to serve in the military. “I thought about it for a while, and I knew God would protect me,” Fryar says.

Upon returning from his mission, Fryar considered several options in the military and discovered that the Army ROTC was a good fit, leading him to join the program when he enrolled at BYU. He says, “The ROTC pushes me mentally and physically.”

In the Army ROTC, he quickly adjusted to the team-focused culture. “I went all in and I joined the Ranger Challenge team,” he says. He quickly built strong friendships with the other cadets as they worked together.

Remaining in the Army ROTC hasn’t always been an easy choice for Fryar. Participation requires his attendance for a collection of training-related responsibilities. “We wake up at 5 a.m. every single day, which limits your social life a little bit. But it’s helped me to learn discipline,” he says.

Army ROTC cadets walking along a path.
Fryar trains hard with the other cadets in the Army ROTC.
Photo courtesy of Aidan Fryar.

Fryar will continue with the Army ROTC until he completes his undergraduate degree in psychology. In the meantime, this spring he’ll apply for medical school to become a psychiatrist and pursue his dream of helping others who struggle with substance abuse. During medical school, Fryar will maintain his service in the military by commissioning in the Army National Guard.

For Fryar, serving others defines his life’s path. “I try to make serving others one of my top priorities,” he says. “That’s what I’m trying to do in the army, so I want to do the same in my life.”

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Written by Jake Holt

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