A March of Their Own

Iowa City – Lindsay Larson can see the finish line.

The 22-year-old University of Iowa senior just received her nursing degree and a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army.

In return for supplying Larson with an ROTC scholarship, she owes the U.S. Army four years of active duty and another four years as a reserve.

Larson now says she’s anxious to learn where the next eight years of her life are going to begin.

“I think about it every single day – what my first duty station will be – it’s always in the back of my mind,” she adds.

In Madison, 175 miles northeast of Iowa City, Jennifer Klapmeier is having similar nervous moments.  She is a fifth-year senior at the University of Wisconsin, studying nursing as well, and is an ROTC cadet graduating this spring.

Klapmeier also is Lindsay Larson’s twin sister.

Larson’s sister married Erik Klapmeier, a 24-year-old former ROTC cadet, in May 2006, who has been on active duty in Iraq since last November.

As high school seniors in Monticello, the twins already had decided to pursue nursing careers.  They also wanted to remain physically active while in college, and limit their student-loan debt.  These were two goals they figured Army ROTC could provide.

With only one four-year scholarship available at the University of Iowa and one at the University of Wisconsin, the twins were forced to attend different institutions.

There are 71 ROTC cadets in Iowa’s Hawkeye Battalion, and about 20 percent are women.  Larson isn’t difficult to spot.  Standing 5’4”, with shoulder-length blond hair pulled back and a medium athletic build, she’s smaller than most of the other cadets, but has a determined look in her eye that lets you know she’s up to the task.

Larson completed a 225-hour nursing internship at the UI Hospitals and Clinics this fall required by the nursing program before she can sit for her board exams.  She works primarily in the Intensive Care Unit.

Ever since the twins were separated to attend different universities Klapmeier and Larson have fixed their sites on securing the same duty station upon their graduation.

This is a tricky proposition.  Larson is a semester ahead of Klapmeier, and will be dispatched to Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas, for eight weeks of training in Army nursing skills on March 23, 2008.  After that, Larson will head to her first duty assignment at Fort Lewis, in Tacoma, Washington, where Madigan Army Medical Center is located.

Larson hopes her sister can catch up with her next fall.  To enhance their chances of being stationed together, they will request a joint domicile.

Currently, they are positioned in the top 10 percent of the ROTC’s National Order Merit List or OML.  When factoring out nursing candidates exclusively, Klapmeier and Larson are ranked second and third out of the 80 other nursing cadets from the Midwest region.

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