2022 ROTC Commissioning

May 6, 2022 | by Taylor Pill

 

Sacrifice. Honor. Tradition.

These three ideas permeate everything that happens in a 36-minute ceremony in Burckart Hall on Commencement Weekend. Three Army ROTC cadets – Reagan Abbey, Kendall Elms, and John Stille – stand tall in curated uniforms as they arrive at a pivotal transition in their lives.

Today, they conclude their training as cadets and commission as second lieutenants into the armed forces.

Retired Col. Tracy Foster issues a charge to the three cadets, who undergo the same traditions that each of the 62 commissioned officers in Maranatha’s Army ROTC history have completed: their families pin the shoulder boards on their uniform; they take the Oath of Office, and now it is time for their first salute as officers.

Focused silence fills Burckart Hall at the first authoritative act for the newly commissioned officers. They bring their hands to the tip of the eyebrow. Thumb and fingers extended. Hand and wrist straight. Just like the training on their first day as cadets. But now, the training was complete. They were the ones to return the salute.

The newly appointed officers give a silver dollar in exchange for the salute – a tradition hearkening back over 200 years. The small coin is a receipt of respect due to the newly earned rank, and it symbolizes gratitude for the training that enabled that respect in the first place.

It’s one act of sacrifice, honor, and tradition. Tradition, because of the 200-year-old ceremony of the silver dollar, the salute, and the established chain of command. Honor, because of the newly appointed rank. And sacrifice – not only the sacrifice the three men paid to get here but also the great sacrifice they stand ready to pay in their future roles as leaders.

Because great leadership demands great sacrifice.

Applause from ROTC alumni, the Maranatha cadre, family, friends, faculty, and staff fill Burckart Hall as the three officers conclude the ceremony. A fitting gesture because the ceremony symbolizes an end – not only was it the final commissioning ceremony in Maranatha’s 16-year history of the ROTC programs, but it is also the end of four years of dedication from the three officers.

The ceremony also symbolizes a beginning. The officers now turn their attention beyond Maranatha to officers’ training.

 

BASIC OFFICER LEADERSHIP COURSE

Reagan Abbey commissions as a second lieutenant in the Wisconsin Army National Guard branching infantry. Abbey will serve in Green Bay, Wisconsin before attending Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course (IBOLC) at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Abbey received his first salute from Tech. Sgt. Cody Black, who recruited Abbey to the National Guard in the first place.

“It’s pretty rare for someone to be there when you swear into the National Guard, and to be there again when you take the Oath of Office,” Abbey said. “It’s two beginnings, really, and having [Black] there for both will be pretty special.”

Looking past the ceremony, Abbey is already preparing himself for balancing a career in law enforcement with his role in the National Guard.

“In some ways, they are very similar but I’ll have to see the differences between the two,” Abbey said. “Adjusting to different leadership pictures – being the one reporting to superiors in law enforcement to being instantly in a leadership role with my platoon will be challenging.”

Kendall Elms commissions as a second lieutenant into the active army, branching field artillery. Elms will attend Field Artillery Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma before arriving at his unit in Oahu, Hawaii.

Elms’ grandfather, retired Spc. Darrel Elms, who served in the Army Reserves at Fort Sill, gave Elms his first salute.

“I picked my grandpa specifically because he made a big impact on me in seeing what a godly Christian man can do in the military,” Elms said. “He raised my dad in an amazing family, and my dad is one of my absolute heroes. So, to know that you can do military stuff and put together a family and raise great kids. . . that’s something I have as a goal, and my grandpa showed me that it was possible.”

The transition is quick for Elms. In just over a month, he will begin FABOLC and will hit the ground running as a second lieutenant.

“There’s a part of that that is quite intimidating,” Elms said. “Within a month after graduating, I will know the bare minimum of what I need to know before going into this as my full-time job. So, for me, mission number one is to establish relationships and learn as much as possible. And not do it all on my own – if I do that, I don’t have what it takes to be successful. I need help, and I’m going to get it from those guys around me.”

John Stille commissions as a second lieutenant into the Wisconsin Army National Guard branching field artillery. Stille will serve in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin before attending Field Artillery Officer Leadership Course (FABOLC) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Stille received his first salute from his grandfather, retired Spc. Gary Frieling, who served from 1965-1971 and was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

“Sharing the first salute with my grandpa is special because he’s the only one in my family that’s served in the Army,” Still said. “He’s been an important example and role model for me and the tradition of the first salute helps recognize that.

“It’ll be my job to do the calculations to figure out where the [field artillery] rounds will land,” Stille said. “So, this is the comprehensive training for the job that we’re going into. The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is to consult with our senior non-commissioned officers and their experience to make sure we’re making the best decisions for the team.”

 

COMMISSIONING ORDER OF SERVICE

 United States National Anthem

Invocation: Dr. S. Martin Marriott

Opening Remarks: Lieut. Col. Stanley Johnson, Badger Battalion

Challenge: Retired Col. Tracy Foster (U.S. Army)

Federal Oath of Office

Wisconsin National Guard Oath of Office

Pinning of Shoulder Boards

First Salutes

Speeches

Convocation: Retired Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Drost

The Army Song

 

OATH OF OFFICE (FEDERAL)

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the regulations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

 OATH OF OFFICE (Wisconsin National Guard)

 “I do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the Governor of the State of Wisconsin, that I make this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office of the second lieutenant of the Army National Guard of the State of Wisconsin upon which I am about to enter, so help me God.”

 OATH OF OFFICE (United States Army)

 “I do solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States, that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God.”

 

To watch the event, CLICK HERE

 

To view photos of the event, CLICK HERE