South Dakota State University Army and Air Force cadets were recognized for their outstanding performance in a ceremony on Monday, April 13. Gov. Dennis Daugaard addressed the cadets and others in attendance inside Frost Arena.
The ceremony was first held in 1918 and has been held annually since. Daugaard made his third appearance as the governor. He also appeared twice as the lieutenant governor in 2005 and 2006.
This year, the governor spoke about freedoms Americans enjoy thanks to those who have served throughout the nation’s history. He also spoke about how proud he is of the SDSU cadets.
“Any time you get a group of exceptional young people, it’s hard to choose the best among the best,” Dougaard said, “but the awards that are conferred today help recognize those people that are most physically fit, those that score the highest on their rigorous tests, and those that are outstanding among a group of outstanding young men and women. So, it’s good for me to be here and help recognize those people. It’s no fun to be recognized if there’s no one around in the audience, and so I’m proud and pleased to be part of that audience.”
Many awards were given to Army and Air Force cadets during the ceremony. Air Force award recipients are as follows: President’s Cup to Tyler Carr, Veterans of Foreign Wars Award to Cole Jorgensen, Daughters of the American Revolution Award to Colton Stanek, American Legion Military Excellence Award to Chandler Bauer, Disabled American Veteran’s Award to Caleb Wynia, Military Officers Association of America Award to Amy Hagen, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War to Ethan Rasmussen, and Vietnam Veterans of American Scholarship Award to Kory Wheeler. Army awards are as followed: Cadet of the Year to Elizabeth Luczak, Veterans of Foreign Wars Award to Dalton DeBoer, Daughters of the American Revolution Award to Alexander Vos, American Legion Military Excellence Award to Cody Leins, Disabled American Veteran’s Award to Jacob Kruse, Department of the Army Superior Cadet Awards to Luczak, Chelsey Cahoon, Emily Kirchner, and Corwin Coldman, Military Officers Association of America Award to DeBoer, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War to Andre Jorgensen, and Vietnam Veterans of American Scholarship Award to Alexander DeWald.
“Well (the ROTC program is) one of the oldest programs in our state,” Dougaard said. “In fact, the establishment of SDSU as a land-grant college, President Chicoine mentioned, required the university to, as a land-grant college, have three programs and one of them was military science. So even before South Dakota was a state, SDSU was teaching military science and the cadets that we have in the Army ROTC program and Air Force ROTC program are committed to military service and they are among the brightest in the nation. In fact, I mentioned in my speech that the Air Force cadets have the second-highest grade point average in the nation, and the highest west of the Mississippi, so they’re not only committed and dedicated, but they’re pretty bright too. I’m pretty proud to be here among them and grateful for their willingness to serve our nation.”
The SDSU Veterans’ Affairs Office also picked the winners of two awards based on commitment to serving veterans and military families at SDSU. The SDSU Veterans’ Affairs Office Student of the Year was awarded to Sergeant Brandon Eggers. The SDSU Veterans’ Affairs Office Department of the Year was awarded to the English Department.