Eight cadets from the University of Lincoln’s ROTC program became U.S. Army officers on Friday, making it the university’s largest commissioning class in seven years.
The eight new officers join the army as second lieutenants, in which they are expected to hold leadership positions.
During a commissioning ceremony on Friday morning, the new officers, also college graduates, were sworn in, received words of encouragement and rank bars pinned to their uniforms by their families.
Lt. Col. Stephen Ruth, Commandant of the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School at West Point, delivered the commencement address.
Officers have worked long and hard to achieve their new rank, Ruth said, and it is now their duty to set a standard for others and uphold it. He said they persevered during the COVID-19 pandemic and answered the call to serve.
“Here at Lincoln University, your hearts should burst with pride in your storied past that is deeply rooted in the history of our military,” Ruth said in her speech.
“These Army veterans are your story and you are their legacy,” he later continued. “And I know you’re on track to honor that legacy with everything you do, every day.”
CJ Closser, who received the Distinguished Military Graduate Award, said the ceremony was a surreal experience.
“It’s something that when you start you don’t see the finish line and then it just creeps up on you pretty quickly,” he said. “But it was great, it was a pretty great day.”
Closser said he has been planning to join the military since graduating from Blair Oaks High School. He enrolled at Lincoln on a football scholarship, but put the game aside to focus on ROTC.
It was a difficult but rewarding experience, he said. The 30-day camp at Fort Knox with a 12-day field exercise in the woods was particularly tough, Closser said.
“You see true colors after 12 days in the woods,” Closser added. “It’s probably the hardest thing we go through, I think, but when you’re around a lot of good people, it makes it pretty easy.”
Closer moves to Enterprise, Alabama, in September to begin flight school at Fort Rucker. He plans to become an aviation officer for the army.
Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholas Bell, professor of military science at LU, said he wanted to make Friday’s ceremony a special day for the large commissioning class.
The ROTC program prepares students for the military with academic, physical, and tactical training requirements.
The graduating class has also been active in recruiting efforts for the program, Bell said, and some have taken on special projects, such as helping with a weekly leadership class at Jefferson City High School or participating in the honor guard. funeral.
Bell said the ROTC program has a lot of hurdles, but the class overcame them all and maintained an average GPA of 3.4.
“Really, it’s the culmination of years for them to get to this point today, so I’m pretty proud of them,” Bell said.
Bell said it wanted to build on the momentum of such a large commissioning class by promoting the program’s full scholarships and other opportunities. Three ROTC cadets are expected to be commissioned next school year.