At home with their families at their side, 18 Austin Peay ROTC students ‘virtually’ commission as Army officers
(Posted on May 13, 2020)
For the first time ever, Austin Peay State University held a virtual commissioning ceremony for its graduating class of ROTC students.
The students received their commissions at their homes on May 13 while their ROTC officers – to keep with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines – conducted the commissioning ceremony in a small, socially distanced group in the front lobby of the Memorial Health Building on campus.
Maj. Marcus Dyl, APSU professor of military science, led the new lieutenants in their commissioning oath before family members – in living rooms across the country – pinned the graduates with their new rank.
Col. Clair Gill, deputy commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, delivered the featured remarks in a pre-recorded video.
Col. Gill's presentation
“First, let me congratulate you and your families on this incredible occasion on your hard-earned graduation and subsequent commissioning as officers in the United States Army,” Gill said. “You have demonstrated excellence in your time here.”
Nine of the graduates previously served in the Army, Gill noted, and six have served in combat.
“But you all have been appropriately trained for this day and the days ahead,” Gill said. “I’m really excited about what your future holds for our soldiers, our Army and with our nation with you all leading the way.
“Now the work begins.”
Gill’s aide-de-camp First Lt. Ben Witosky also spoke to the graduates and offered three pieces of advice:
- Stay humble and adaptable.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
- Build a network of mentors.
Gill added: “The Army is a people business. … Get to know your soldiers and everything about them. Form bonds with your peers, you’ll need them and benefit from them.
“You are now among the few, the very few, the band of brothers,” Gill closed.
In an earlier video message, APSU President Dr. Alisa White told the university’s military and veteran graduates, “I wish that we were meeting in person and that I could shake your hand and congratulate you properly but know I am so proud of you and your successes. Austin Peay is a better university because you were here.”
Austin Peay’s Department of Military Science streamed the ceremonies live through a virtual meeting platform at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. and at noon.
The students honored during the ceremonies were:
- Ross Barber, Distinguished Military Graduate (DMG)
- Jakob Bertoni
- Sarah Brekhus
- Joselyn Brown
- Daniel Cole, DMG
- Alexander Dewald
- Brandon Dickinson, DMG
- Braydon Donnell, DMG
- Ricardo Goti
- Walter Higbee, DMG
- Nayerline Napoleon
- Spencer O'Shoney
- Madison Parkison
- Jertil Robinson
- Juan Soto, DMG
- Matthew Stauss, DMG
- Christina Taylor
- Sydney Whitmore
Distinguished Military Graduates rank in the top 20% of more than 6,000 new Army officers from the ROTC, achieving high scholarship, high moral character, military aptitude and leadership ability.
Sixteen of the new officers are active duty and two are Army Reserve/National Guard. The age range of the students is 21 years old to 38. Christina Taylor, 38, participated in the 2003 Iraq invasion with the 4th Infantry Division.
This ROTC class also earned Austin Peay the 2018-19 MacArthur Award, which goes to the top program in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan (the 7th ROTC Brigade based at Fort Knox, Kentucky).
Members of this class also led the program’s Ranger Challenge Team to first- and second-place finishes at the brigade’s annual competition, earning two-straight invitations to the international Sandhurst competition at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
To see Gill’s speech, go to https://youtu.be/zVak6fDYYCQ.
Video from the ceremonies will be posted at the APSU ROTC YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOZt4y9S1HgjsX-r3NF_iRQ.
To learn more about Austin Peay’s ROTC program and the Department of Military Science, go to www.apsu.edu/rotc.
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