Ninety-eight officers commissioned in Norwich University ceremony
On Saturday, May 13, 98 Norwich University seniors reported to Plumley Armory in dress uniforms, ready to be addressed as "Cadet" for the last time. In three separate ROTC ceremonies, these men and women took the oath of office and were commissioned as Second Lieutenants in the Army, Air Force and Marines, and Ensigns in the Navy in front of family and loved ones.
The Air Force ceremony took place first, with 17 new second lieutenants receiving their gold bars. Colonel Timothy Van Splunder, Commander of Norwich's Air Force ROTC detachment and Norwich class of 1977, spoke about the significance of the words that comprise the oath of office and relayed with fondness his special relationship with this particular class; "they arrived at Norwich the same time that I did, and we're going out the door about the same time."
New lieutenants Anders J. Hedberg and Elizabeth C. Richards received both the Dennis J. Ladd Award, and the coveted Distinguished Graduate Award, the latter of which identifies the recipients as graduating in the top ten percent of Air Force ROTC commissioning officers nationwide.
The second ceremony witnessed the commissioning of 54 new second lieutenants into the United States Army. Nineteen others had either already been commissioned this year, or will be commissioned upon completion of training during the summer, giving Norwich the distinction of producing more Army lieutenants than any other university in the United States, with the exception of West Point. Colonel William Scott Knoebel, Professor of Military Science and Norwich class of 1976, focused on an impressive list of accomplishments; "This is an exceptional class of commissionees. The cumulative GPA of this class is 3.1. Over one-third of this class went to camp last year and scored 'excellent' in all leadership dimensions across the board, and their combined physical fitness score out of 300 points is 277 points. The top 20% are in the top 10% of all cadets being commissioned nationwide this year."
From the Army, there were 15 students who achieved the status of Distinguished Military Graduate.
The Navy and Marine Corps hosted the final ceremony of the day, commissioning 14 Naval ensigns and 13 Marine Corps second lieutenants. The day was especially significant for Colonel Stephen Pomeroy, the new Commanding Officer of Norwich's NROTC unit, as it marked the 28th anniversary of his own commissioning. Colonel Pomeroy emphasized the importance of "service before self," stressing that, "Although this is a tremendous individual achievement, we are not going to talk about individualism today, because these young men and women are entering into something that is above individualism."
While the new officers in the Navy, Army and Air Force have already been notified of their specific military career field or specialty and first base assignment, the new Marine Corps officers will first report to The Basic School in Quantico, Va., before they find out their specialty and initial location. Seven of the 27 total commissioned in the Navy and Marine Corps were designated as distinguished graduates. This year, Norwich also has the distinction of having commissioned two out of only fourteen cadets nationwide who have been chosen to enter Navy SEAL training.
Norwich University, the oldest private military college in the nation, and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), commissions officers into all branches of the military. All Corps students, in order to graduate in uniform with a Corps diploma, must complete six semesters of classes in their chosen ROTC branch. Cadets seeking a commission are required to complete a fourth year of ROTC classes and meet all other criteria established by the commissioning branch.