National accolade ranks Norwich as top ROTC program among Senior and Junior Military Colleges for 2019-20

Col. Joel Newsom told nearly 100 U.S. Army commissionees from Norwich University, some on Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium, some watching online, to celebrate their accomplishments, strive for more and lead empathetically.

During Saturday’s Norwich University 2021 U.S. Army ROTC ceremony, which occupied Sabine Field’s football gridiron after the Joint Commissioning ceremony finished, Newsom said the 98 Class of 2021 graduates in the ROTC detachment he leads had excelled in academics, leadership, physical fitness and community service. 

Six Army ROTC cadets, he said, had ranked among the top 10 of all cadets within Cadet Command, 23 were named Distinguished Military Graduates and 90% earned their first rank choices, topping the Armywide average of 68%, and 96% got one of their top three branch choices. (The U.S. Army Cadet Command, formed in April 1986, oversees more than 400 Senior Army ROTC units and more than 800 Junior ROTC programs.)

“The collective success of this program is tied directly to all of the individual accomplishments of all of you seated here, and I congratulate you on a job well done.” Col. Joel Newsom, U.S. Army ROTC commander, Norwich University

Furthermore, Newsom said, Norwich’s Army ROTC unit won the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Award for the Cadet Command’s 1st Brigade.

The 1st Brigade, headquartered at Fort Knox, Kentucky, comprises all Army Senior Military Colleges — Norwich, the University of North Georgia, The Citadel, Texas A&M University, Virginia Military Institute and Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University — and the four Military Junior Colleges: Marion Military Institute, Georgia Military College, New Mexico Military Institute and Valley Forge Military Academy & College.  

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After she swore her oath and commissioned into the U.S. Army on Saturday, Isabella Leister ’21, right, had her 2nd lieutenant’s bars pinned onto her uniform by her sister Clara Leister ’16, a U.S. Army captain. (Photo by Mark Collier/Norwich University.)

Overall, eight schools among the 274 senior Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps units nationwide earn MacArthur Awards. On its website, the Army said the MacArthur Awards, announced April 15 and presented since 1989 by the Cadet Command and the nonprofit Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation, recognize the ideals of “duty, honor and country” that MacArthur (1880-1964), advocated as Army chief of staff in the 1930s and in his Pacific theater service during World War II.

The Army said the foundation and Cadet Command consider colleges’ commissioning missions, cadet performance, cadet retention rate and standing on the national Order of Merit List when determining honorees. (The Order of Merit List considers grade-point averages, physical training scores and service in leadership positions to rank cadets for postgraduation and postcommissioning branch assignments.)

“The ROTC motto is ‘leadership excellence,’ and these programs exemplify that ethos through their hard work and dedication,” Maj. Gen. John Evans, commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command, said. “Being named a MacArthur award winner acknowledges that these programs are going above and beyond to train the next generation of Army officers. They are the best in the nation.”

Tapping potential

Newsom said the MacArthur Award reflects the Norwich ROTC program’s excellence.

“The collective success of this program is tied directly to all of the individual accomplishments of all of you seated here,” he said, “and I congratulate you on a job well done.”

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Col. Joel Newsom addresses U.S. Army commissionees Saturday at Sabine Field. (Photo by Norwich University Photography.)

Newsom said the Class of 2021 Army commissionees will advance by tapping the potential they’d exhibited on Norwich University’s campus. Echoing the day’s previous speakers, U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, and U.S. Air Force Reserve Maj. Gen. Gary W. Keefe, Newsom told the Army cadets they’d protect America’s ideals with their oath of allegiance to the Constitution.

“You will commit to well and faithfully discharging your duties, meaning that you must give your best every day to accomplish the mission your commanders assign you, and, just as importantly, to serve the soldiers under your command.”

Good Army leaders, Newsom said, create climates of dignity and respect. They ensure soldiers can pursue education; are paid and can live in safe, suitable homes; and can experience life moments such as weddings, births and funerals.

“Among this group of future officers, there very well may be a future chief of staff of the Army or someone who is given the opportunity to lead in a battle that makes the history books,” Newsom said. “However, for most of us, I believe that our legacies in the Army will be directly tied to the soldiers and families we impact through good, positive leadership.”


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