Norwich University’s graduating future officers will hear remarks from a fellow alumnus at this spring’s joint services commissioning ceremony. Major General Gary Keefe ’86, USAFR, Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard, returns to the Norwich campus to speak to ROTC commissioning officers during a formal ceremony to mark the occasion on at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 1.
The in-person, outdoor event is planned to take place on Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium and will be streamed live for those students commissioning remotely, as well as for the Norwich community. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in Shapiro Field House. This event is part of Norwich University’s Commencement Weekend.
Keefe is one of 25 Norwich alumni currently serving in “flag officer” status as a general, admiral, or in the federal government Senior Executive Service. Major General Keefe oversees the strategic direction, administration, and operation of the Massachusetts National Guard with an annual budget of $450 million to ensure over 9,000 joint soldiers, airmen, and civilians are trained, equipped, and mission-ready to support national security objectives overseas as well as protect life and property and preserve peace, order, and public safety as directed in times of natural disaster and civil emergency within Massachusetts.
Major General Keefe will address approximately 181 students anticipated to commission into four branches of the military. During these in-person and virtual ceremonies the new officers receive their second 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 United States Space Force later this summer and who follow in the footsteps of Norwich’s first United States Space Force commissionee, Zachary C. Van Buskirk ’20.
Service Commissioning ceremonies will begin at 4:15 p.m. and 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. AROTC, AFROTC, and NROTC staff personnel will issue the oath of office by branch to the 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).