Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe portrait

NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Norwich University’s graduating future officers will hear remarks from a fellow alumnus at this spring’s joint services commissioning ceremony. Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe ’86, U.S. Air Force Reserve and Massachusetts National Guard adjutant general, returns to the Norwich campus to speak to ROTC commissioning officers during a formal ceremony at 3 p.m. May 1, 2021.

The in-person, outdoor event, part of Norwich University’s Commencement Weekend, is planned to take place on Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium. It will be streamed live for students who are commissioning remotely and for the Norwich community. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in Shapiro Field House.

General Keefe is one of 25 Norwich alumni serving in “flag officer” status as a general, admiral or in the federal government Senior Executive Service.

Keefe oversees the strategic direction, administration and operation of the Massachusetts National Guard with an annual budget of $450 million. He ensures that more than 9,000 joint Soldiers, Airmen, and civilians are trained, equipped and mission-ready to support national security objectives overseas and to protect life and property and preserve peace, order and public safety in times of natural disaster and civil emergency within Massachusetts.

Keefe will address approximately 181 students expected to commission into four branches of the military. During these in-person and virtual ceremonies, the new Officers receive their 2nd lieutenant or ensign bars. First salutes may also occur at these ceremonies pending the personal decision of each student.

This year’s Joint Commissioning Ceremony is a historic event, marked by two Air Force ROTC students who will commission into the U.S. Space Force later this summer and who follow in the footsteps of Norwich’s first U.S. Space Force commissionee, Zachary C. Van Buskirk ’20.

Service Commissioning ceremonies will begin at 4:15 p.m.; each military branch’s event will also be streamed live. Individual virtual commissioning ceremonies will be available to those students who do not return to Norwich University and who elect to complete their First Salute at home. U.S. Army ROTC, U.S. Air Force ROTC, and U.S. Navy ROTC staff will issue the oath of office to commissionees and will support students in their First Salute remotely if requested.

The anticipated commissions for the Class of 2021 by branch and location are: Army, 113 (to be held on Sabine Field, or Shapiro Field House in inclement weather); Air Force, 41 (to be held on the steps of Jackman Hall, or Mack Hall Auditorium in inclement weather); Naval Program, Navy ensigns, 16 and Marine cadets, 10 (Wise Campus Center Green, or Plumley Armory in inclement weather).

Out of an abundance of caution and due to the state of Vermont pandemic protocols, the Norwich University campus is closed to visitors.

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About Norwich University
Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by U.S. Army Capt. Captain Alden Partridge and is the oldest private military college in the United States. Norwich is one of our nation's six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

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