On Saturday, May 5, 2012, I had the honor of attending the Spring 2012 East Carolina University Army ROTC Commissioning Ceremony. This was one of the most moving experiences of my life. Major General Nick Justice, the ceremony’s Distinguished Speaker, said it best when he stated that this event was an order of magnitude more important than the students graduation from ECU the day before. And in the ceremony that followed MG Justice’s emotional talk, no doubt this was true. As a civilian who had never attended a commissioning, I had no idea what to expect or what would happen. The event started by showing pictures of each of the 12 then cadets through childhood to adult. Following MG Justice’s talk and a few words from LTC Daniel Heape, the ECU Army ROTC Battalion Commander (2011-2012) , each young soldier took their oath.
The emotion shared by the soldiers was intense and their oath, pinning of the bars and first salute rendering told the story of their journeys in both the words they spoke and through the emotions on their faces. Most notable (and when I balled uncontrollably) were (1) when 2LT Kyle Chase took his oath from his father with at least four of his family members present who also have served, are serving or are with him in spirit; and (2) when 2LT James Moore was embraced by his family following the pinning and the story he told of his journey. Each commissioned soldier was without question proud and what brought them to that wonderful day was unique, challenging and honorable. They passionately thanked the cadre in their ceremony including Major Ronald Roseboro, MSG Hunter, Mr. Torrence Taylor, SFC Twondell Baylor, CPT Colleen Burgemaster, and CPT Bryan Vaden as well as Col (Ret) Tim Wiseman who, along with his wife, has also been a spiritual leader for cadets.
These young great Americans are embarking on a new journey and new responsibilities that exceed those of any of the other 3800 ECU graduates that day and we are blessed to have them serving to protect our freedom. Since 2008, when many of them started in the ECU ROTC program, I have observed them rise earlier than other ECU students for PT sessions, arriving on campus at 0530 as I approached our student recreation center for my own workouts. Their inspiration at this time had also been the beginning of the creation of the leadership series presented herein, as I searched for others to assist my course in engineering project management to help instill strong leadership and work ethic into engineering students that had been so well demonstrated by their fellow students – the Army ROTC cadets. Over the course of these four years, I too have grown in learning at least a little of what they will be charged to live during the rest of their time as soldiers in the United States Army.
It was a humble blessing to witness their commissioning. These young cadets begin a new chapter in their lives, and a most important one, in serving in the greatest Army in the world as officers. During the ceremony, what MG Justice indicated was realized and clearly evident… that these young people had accomplished so much more than that piece of paper for their ECU undergraduate degree. This ceremony was just the beginning of their lifelong accomplishments as great American soldiers.
Congratulations to the newest ECU graduates and, most importantly, new Second Lieutenants in the U.S. Army:
2LT Christopher Bender
2LT Andrew Bunn
2LT Kyle Chase
2LT Colby Earp
2LT Rebecca Grado
2LT Ben Liboon
2LT Robert McFarland
2LT Phillip Miller
2LT James Moore
2LT Matthew Nine
2LT Derek Vanino
2LT Brandon Williams
I will forever remember your day as it touched my heart and soul. If I could turn back time and have the opportunity to join you in service, I would do so. Blessings to you and your families as you move forward, onward and upward.