As zombies hunted humans around Jesse Hall, Rorke Denver talked inside Jesse Hall to audience of ROTC members, veterans and civilians about a different kind of battle.
Denver, a former Navy SEAL, spoke as a part of Veterans Week at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and stayed to talk with the audience until well after 10 p.m. His presentation primarily focused on training, teamwork and leadership.
For Denver, the battle was not in the deserts of Iraq but in training. He said training is what "pushes you into that next level." Denver was once a training officer for the SEALs, who are renowned for their grueling program. He showed a video demonstrating how hard the training is for hopeful SEALs.
Jordan Webb, an MU senior and Air Force ROTC member, said he came to the presentation to hear about some lessons Denver has learned, as well as what the military did for him personally beyond just being a career. Webb said he wants to pilot helicopters.
“It’s a good opportunity to hear firsthand about the type of things we will face in our careers,” Webb said.
Denver also starred in "Act of Valor," a 2012 film based on Tom Clancy’s novel of the same title. Even though the Navy placed him under orders to do the movie, he would not have done it if it wasn’t done right, Denver said to the audience. Thus, the action sequences in the movie are real and include actual SEALs, not stunt men.
Cale Sears, co-chair of the MSA/GPC speakers committee, said Denver was engaging since he did not stand behind the podium and came off as a real person.
Denver also engaged the audience by asking them to jump, his favorite training exercise. SEALs in training might do around 1200 jumps in the sand, Denver said. Those in attendance at Jesse only had to do three jumps.
To conclude his talk on training, Denver asked the audience to participate in another activity. He asked for everyone to put their hands in the air and reach as high as they could, and then he asked for another inch.
“That one inch that you just reached for is your ability to improve in an elite environment," Denver said after the activity. "You can always find that one inch. Everyone has an inch they can go for and improve."
Travis McCartney, associate vice president for Missouri Student Veterans Association, is getting ready to leave for training for the Army and was looking for leadership guidance from Denver.
“I’ll be looking for that extra inch,” McCartney said.
Denver also showed clips from his movie throughout the presentation. He didn’t watch the screen while the clip played, comparing it to listening to your own phone message, 1000 times over.
The clips demonstrated two of his points, balance and the idea that "calm is contagious." In the clip, Denver spoke to his team about balancing their personal lives with other duties so the job can get done.
Ethan Welch, a student at Moberly Area Community College, will leave for the Army in January. He said he liked Denver’s message about balance. Welch brought a promotional movie poster for "Act of Valor" that stood taller than him for Denver to sign.
“It was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Welch said.
The other clip highlighted Denver’s point that "calm is contagious," a lesson he learned during his last days in SEAL training. Denver concluded his presentation by thanking the audience.
“If there wasn’t this amazing country to fight for, these past 13 years would have been a forfeit," he said. "I thank you for giving us something to fight for.”
The audience returned the favor by giving Denver a standing ovation.