Norwich Students’ Future Military Careers Revealed in Branching Ceremony

Seventy-two percent receive top job choice

On Veterans Day, sixty Norwich seniors found out what jobs they will be assigned in the military upon being commissioned in May. The students, all Army ROTC Cadets, had their career choices revealed to them in a formal rite known as the "branching ceremony." The culmination of three-plus years of hard work, the ceremony is a commencement of sorts, symbolizing the first step in a young person's military career. It also contains an element of suspense.

"Most of the students have no idea which branch they will be assigned to until it is announced at the ceremony," said 2LT April Violon of the Army ROTC department. Violon, a 2005 Norwich graduate, served as emcee and had the enviable job of revealing the students' futures to them.

"Every ROTC commissionee in the nation is assigned to one of their top five choices based on where they rank on the National Order of Merit List (OML)," explained Violon. Determined by a national branching board, OML rank takes into account a student's academic GPA; their performance at Warrior Forge training at Fort Lewis, WA; their score on the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT); and their performance in ROTC courses at Norwich; as well as extra-curricular involvement such as athletics, clubs and volunteerism. "Forty percent is academics, and 60% is everything else," Violon said.

"Students spend three years competing to be the best they can, so they can get into the branch they want," said LTC Richard Manganello, XO of Army ROTC in charge of training. "To get them all to a level of excellence takes a lot of time and effort on the part of the NCO's who work with them."

According to COL Scott Knoebel, director of the NU AROTC program and guest speaker at the ceremony, this year's class not only outdid all previous Norwich commissioning classes, they outperformed every other senior military college in the country.

"Twenty percent of our cadets ranked in the top ten percent of the nation in the OML," said Knoebel. "Not only that, but with the exception of West Point, this spring the Army will commission more ROTC students from Norwich than from any other school in the nation, including VMI, the Citadel and Penn State," Knoebel added.

Because Norwich's students ranked so high in the OML, seventy-two percent received their first choice of branch, while ninety percent were assigned to one of their top three choices.

According to Violon, the atmosphere during the branching ceremony was charged with excitement and anticipation.

"White Chapel was packed -- there was standing room only," Violon said. "Friends and family were yelling and cheering."

One by one, each cadet was called forward and asked to stand in front of the audience. An ROTC instructor then came up and faced the cadet while his or her branch was announced, before pinning on their insignia. For many, the moment prompted a huge sigh of relief.

"My knees felt a little weak and tingly at the time. I was really nervous," said Cadet Manuel Matos, a political science major from Vicenza, Italy, who aspires to a career in the health care field. "When I heard medical services, it was a big relief."

History major Jeff Hayes said he was "ecstatic" upon learning his assignment.

"I was really apprehensive, because aviation is a very competitive branch," said Cadet Hayes, Ranger company commander in the Corps of Cadets. "Quite a few people got aviation ahead of me in line, so in my mind the chances of me getting it were diminishing as the slots went away. Eleven of us got aviation, which is unprecedented as far as I can remember here. Usually it's two or three max."

During his speech, Colonel Knoebel praised this year's commissioning class for their outstanding achievement. "I told them how proud I was of them -- that they represent the best and the brightest that Norwich produces. That because of them, Norwich's name is synonymous with leadership excellence."

The following is a list of Norwich ROTC cadets who were branched during the November 11 ceremony.

  • Christopher L. Aceves - Signal Corps
  • Marc J. Allerdt - Aviation
  • Frank Armeson - Infantry
  • Eric R. Beauregard - Transportation Corps
  • Sarah E. Benson - Aviation
  • Camille I. Betito - Nurse Corps
  • Benjamin L. Bragdon - Military Police
  • John W. Brittingham - Quarter Master
  • Nicholas C. Brumm - Engineer
  • Thomas S. Campbell - Field Artillery
  • Nolan J. Cisper - Field Artillery
  • Jeffrey J. Clark - Military Intelligence, Armor
  • Melissa L. Clark - Military Intelligence
  • Rosemary Cogan - Signal Corps, Chemical Corps
  • Kristian R. Delrosario - Medical Service Corps
  • Mark J. Euse - Medical Service Corps
  • Lauren G. Fernando - Quarter Master
  • Melissa A. Flavell - Nurse Corps
  • Christopher T. Gage - Infantry
  • Michael J. Goodney - Military Intelligence, Armor
  • Brian F. Groshon - Aviation
  • Joseph L. Gyokeri - Quarter Master
  • Ryan J. Haigh - Medical Service Corps
  • Patrick J. Halloran - Signal Corps
  • John E. Hanlon - Engineer
  • Brian C. Hartigan - Engineer
  • Jason S. Hartwig - Armor
  • Jeffrey R. Hayes - Aviation
  • Matthew R. Ingles - Aviation
  • Joseph R. Irwin - Transportation Corps
  • Patrick J. Irwin - Quarter Master
  • Dana R. Lafarier - Field Artillery
  • Jeffrey M. Laurendeau - Military Police, Armor
  • Michael R. Lind - Engineer
  • David P. Lorange - Aviation
  • Neil T. Macaloney - Aviation
  • Manuel A. Matos - Medical Service Corps
  • Kevin J. Michel - Transportation Corps
  • Adam J. Moore - Armor
  • Michael L. Neely - Infantry
  • Ryan B. Nelson - Signal Corps
  • Mark A. Puopolo - Field Artillery
  • Christopher D. Quinlan - Aviation
  • Jordan J. Roundy - Military Intelligence, Infantry
  • Kevin M. Ryan - Military Intelligence
  • Jonathan W. Ryder - Aviation
  • Christopher L. Sabatino - Infantry
  • Jacob N. Schutz - Military Intelligence
  • Joshua D. Slattery - Signal Corps, Infantry
  • Brian W. Smith - Ordnance
  • Julia T. Stern - Nurse Corps
  • Megan C. Thayer - Chemical Corps
  • Jonathan J. Vaccaro - Military Intelligence, Armor
  • Heather M. Waite - Medical Service Corps
  • Bradley G. Wolcott - Armor
  • Lawrence J. Wu - Field Artillery
  • Luke D. Yustin - Aviation
  • Matthew J. Zilinski - Military Police
  • Mark B. Zinderman - Aviation
  • Anthony J. Zito - Field Artillery