Cadet Colonel Wilbur OlesMeet the Regimental Commander

The Regimental Commander for 2003/2004, Cadet Colonel Wilbur Oles, is a U.S. Marine Corps ROTC scholarship student. From the outset, Oles knew he had made the right choice in coming to Norwich.

"As soon as I set foot on the campus I knew it was the place I wanted to be."

As Norwich University's newest Regimental Commander, Oles is determined to see that the Corps is where it needs to be in terms of striving for its goals. While he advocates growing the Corps, his chief concern is that of maintaining the quality of the Corps.

"I'd like to see the Corps take back the UP just as much as anybody," he admitted. "I'd love nothing better - but at the same time we have to ensure that the students coming in and learning leadership here possess the quality and the character to be able to serve our nation both in the military and the civilian sector, so that Norwich is still going to be around years and years from now."

The world has changed dramatically since August of 2000, when Oles' rook class first set foot on "The Hill." Oles maintains that Norwich's mission is more relevant than ever, and that our goals as leaders should be taken that much more seriously.

"The mission of Norwich should be clearer now than it has ever been," said the 21- year-old from Delhi, N.Y. "Citizen soldiers are going to have to go out and lead in these chaotic times. That in itself makes people realize how special it is that they are at Norwich - that what they do after they graduate is going to have an affect on the nation."

Oles, a history major minoring in education, plans to be commissioned into the Marine Corps upon graduating. He feels that, regardless of what path he chooses, leadership carries with it great responsibility.

"As a Marine Corps officer, when I go out there, I may not become a four-star general - but my troops and my first platoon - I am going to have an affect on them and their morale and how they view the nation and everything that's going on, because I am going to be their leader. They're going to look to me, and that is a very powerful thing - now more than ever, because there's hot spots everywhere," said Oles.

Recently graduated from a rigorous six weeks of NROTC Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, Oles has sage advice for the 900+ cadets about to come under his command.

"Don't lose sight of why you came here. Strive in your academics - strive for what you can do. You should be looking to develop your leadership in everything you do at Norwich. Just because you're not the regimental commander or battalion commander doesn't mean you can't be a leader. You can lead in anything you want. Just do the best you can wherever you are."

dweggler@norwich.edu, August 2003

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