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Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Observer

ROTC cadets to receive commissions, serve as officers in the Armed Forces

After four years of spirited dedication to the balance of diligent training with academic courses at the University, 45 senior cadets of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) will be receiving their commissions Saturday at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC).

For these graduating members of Notre Dame's class of 2022, this will mark a pivotal transition in their careers, as they will be accepting their duties as officers in various branches of the US armed forces. 

Parker McDowell, senior cadet of Air Force ROTC and distinguished graduate, described commissioning as the culmination of years of extremely hard work. McDowell will be pursuing a career field which he described as the integration of Air Force leadership on airpower into the overall battle space.

“Above all else, my classmates and I are seeking to be a force for good,“ he said in an email. 

McDowell expressed how grateful he was for the students he underwent his training with.

“The friends I have made here are my second family, so I am not worried that we won't make time to see each other again,” McDowell said. “We have helped build each other into our country's future leaders, warriors, and defenders. I cannot wait to see my friends do what they have trained so hard to earn the privilege of doing.” 

Mitchell Kennedy, Army ROTC senior cadet and distinguished graduate, said that commissioning "serves as the perfect way" to end his time in the program.

“It's funny how the most difficult of circumstances can bring people together in such a special way, and that's definitely been the case for me in ROTC,” he said. “To see all my hard work pay off in such an important moment in my military career, and to be able to share that moment with my friends, family and all those who've helped me along the way is something that means the world to me.”

After commissioning as a second lieutenant in the Army, Kennedy will be joining the Medical Service Corps branch of the Massachusetts National Guard while also attending medical school at the University of Massachusetts.

Kennedy noted the honor of being a distinguished military graduate, citing the “constant motivation and inspiration” from his instructors and peers as a critical part of his journey.

“It has been my lifelong dream to be a doctor in the Army,” he said. “I can't wait for the day when I'm able to treat soldiers and civilians alike around the world, and I know my time here at Notre Dame and in the Battalion has prepared me extremely well to do just that.”

The tri-mil commissioning ceremony will be held in Leighton Hall in DPAC. This will be the ceremony’s official return to its traditional venue after two years of location adjustments caused by the pandemic.  

The guest speaker will be Lt. Gen. Kirk Pierce, of the US Air Force, commander of First Air Force at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

The graduating class of Air Force ROTC had three different commanders over their four years, which presented challenges as they led the Cadet Wing this academic year.

Col. Cary Culbertson, commander of Air Force ROTC and professor of aerospace studies, said the cadets “rose to the challenge,” adapting to the change in training philosophy and strengthening the wing.

The core values of the Air Force read “Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence In All We Do.” Culbertson said that the commissioning cadets “have instilled our Air Force core values and will continue to live by them.” 

Col. Nora Flott, commander of Army ROTC and professor of military science, noted that despite the unknowns, the seniors “led with optimism.”

“I'm impressed the most by the commitment our seniors have to the betterment of our Battalion,” she said. 

The Army’s core values are “Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.” Flott expressed her confidence in the preparation of the departing seniors. 

“I am 100% confident that these leaders are ready to lead our future Army, Nation and Communities,” Flott said. 

Capt. Lance Thompson, commanding officer of Navy ROTC and professor of naval science, described this year’s seniors as “beyond resilient.”   

“They have overcome the challenges of balancing college and ROTC responsibilities, along with a pandemic,” he said. 

The core values of the Navy are “Honor, Courage, and Commitment.” Thompson explained he believes the graduating class embodies these values.   

“They are driven leaders who have demonstrated outstanding potential as future Naval officers,” he said.