Ceremonies mark ROTC career stages

Jamie Anderson

Jamie Anderson

Graduation is approaching quickly, but for some Army and Air Force students a few other ceremonies will be just as important.

Both the Army and Air Force ROTC programs will have a commissioning ceremony honoring seniors changing ranks and the Air Force ROTC will have a change of command ceremony as well.

“This ceremony is the culmination of the Army ROTC program at SDSU,” said 1st Lt. Marty Skovly, the emcee for the Army ROTC ceremony.

The Army commissioning ceremony is a military tradition similar to graduation. A speaker will talk about the future for the graduates and possible jobs, said Skovly.

After being commissioned, the students will be second lieutenants and a first salute is done between commissioned and non-commissioned officers. They are then given a silver dollar for remembrance of the ceremony.

The pinning of the second lieutenant rank is usually done by a family member and it can be an emotional part of the ceremony, said Skovly.

“It is a huge step in their military career,” said Skovly. “It’s a huge event and not everyone can do it. Three will be commissioned at the Dec. 12 ceremony.”

The Army ROTC commissioning ceremony will take place in Peterson Recital Hall at 1 p.m. on Dec. 12 where seniors Adam Blankenfeld, Paul Gibson and Chris Wendt will receive honors.

The Air Force ROTC change of command and commissioning ceremonies will each honor one student.

“A junior or senior student who is a cadet may be nominated for wing commander,” said Pete Nielsen, commander of the Air Force ROTC Detachment 780. “Each cadet has to hold a leadership role either their junior or senior year.”

A commissioning ceremony will follow a couple days later. The Air Force ceremony is similar to the Army’s. The Air Force cadets will also become second lieutenants.

“We have confidence and trust in the commissioned students,” said Nielsen. “They fly expensive aircraft right out of college. Many will be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan probably within the next two years.”

“It’s fun to see them (at the commissioning ceremony) when they are done,” said Bonnie Luecke, secretary of the AFROTC program. “I’ve been the secretary for 23 years, and it’s still exciting to see.”

The change of command ceremony will be at the Brookings National Guard Armory at 5 p.m. on Dec. 10. Junior Elizabeth Metcalf will become a wing commander.

The Air Force commissioning ceremony will take place in Crothers Engineering Hall in room 204 at noon on Dec. 12 where senior Timothy Grace will receive his new title.

Anyone is welcome to attend the Army or Air Force ceremonies.

Another commissioning ceremony will happen in May, close to the time of spring graduation.

“With the second lieutenant title, they outrank 80 percent of Air Force personnel,” said Nielsen. “This person leads tomorrow’s young men and women.”