This year was a special year for commissioning ceremonies here in the North Country. Actually, every year is special, but the number of family members that played a special role, the number of departed cadets and cadre that returned, and the sheer number of cadets commissioned all made this year memorable. Here are just a couple of the highlights for me.
A little over four years ago I journeyed down to Lowville to give one of my four year scholarship winners his PT test. We set up a time to meet at the Lewis County Fairgrounds in Lowville, which had a track adequate for the 2 mile run. I arrived and met Bill’s father, a retired Marine Corps Major, and his younger brother, Joe, who was an athlete and in my eyes, a prospect. Flash forward to commissioning day and Bill’s father administering the oath, Bill’s father and his brother putting on his bars, and then Bill receiving his silver dollar salute from his brother who is now an enlisted Marine.
Green to Gold at Potsdam
At Potsdam this year we saw the fruits of our Fort Drum Green to Gold office’s labor. Four Green to Gold Cadets and one Cadet who was a Green to Gold prospect finished their studies and commissioned. All four of the Green to Gold Cadets had children who helped pin their bars on. All the Commissioning Cadets at the ceremony had someone special swear them in, and Col Peterson was a terrific guest speaker, who swore Cadet Vasquez in, just as he did two years previously, when he reenlisted into the ROTC program.
This year we had five Distinguished Military Graduates (DMG). A DMG is defined as:
An ROTC graduate who has maintained a distinguished military student status throughout MSL IV and is in the top 20% of the National Accessions order of merit list (OML).
LTs Austin, Zanghi, Garza, Lambert, and Wilsey received DMG recognition this year. Those in the know (Dilys and Shirley) claim this is the most in recent memory. Of course this was a bigger commissioning class than usual, but our number of DMGs was still an accomplishment.
Dilys silver dollar salutes
A handful of Cadets this year chose to ask Mrs. Dilys Heinssen, our Human Resource Administrator (HRA) to be part of their Silver Dollar Salute. She is a retired Reserve Non-commissioned Officer, and over the years has played an instrumental role in processing all the paperwork involved with their ROTC career from contracting and enrolling to commissioning. It was nice to see her have the honor this year of a handful of first salutes.
Cummings Mother/Swartz Grandmother
As the father of two daughters and someone who has a lot of respect for strong women in the military this year was very special. Among the former Officers who played a role in the festivities at St Lawrence were two female veterans. LT Cummings was sworn in by her mother, Candyce who is a retired Army Major, and LT Swartz had one of his bars placed on his uniform by his grandmother, Mary Mills, who served in World War Two as a captain.