By: Jake McCollum
Fort Knox (July 12, 2015) – Natcher Gym echoed with the triumphant voices of 579 cadets as 3rd Regiment CLC graduated on Sunday. The ceremony was attended by friends, family and the cadre that watched over them for the past 31 days.
Beginning promptly at 9 a.m. with music from an Army band, 3rd Regiment’s graduation was opened by the recitation of the Cadet Creed. Afterwards was the presentation of awards, where several cadets who demonstrated exceptional abilities and leadership traits were honored by various military organizations.
The awardees were: Christopher R Scott, Central Washington University – The Ausa Warrior Ethos Award. Nico E. Diaz, Western Illonois University – Military Order of World Wars Award. Johnathan D. Good, Colorado State University – Military Officers’ Association of America Award. Alexandra M. Mikle, University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Arthur L. Dean, Bowie State University – Armed Forces Bank Award. John E. Vinson, Central State University – Apextech Warrior Award. Kody W. Cissna, Tarleton State University – Reserve Officers’ Association Award. Joseph Sierra Henriquez, Inter American University Arecibo – National Guard Association of the United States Award. Michael L. Lamont, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University – Bold Leader Spirit Award. Johnathan G. Cantu, Tarleton State University – First Command Financial Planning Award. Joseph M. Moreland, University of North Georgia – Armed Forces Services Corporation Award. Mark E. Ostroski, Bridgewater State College – USA Cares Award.
Once the awards were presented, Maj. Gen. Peggy Combs, Commander US Army Cadet Command, addressed the cadets and their families, wishing them good fortune in their future military careers.
“I wished [the cadets] luck for next year and they said, ‘No, Ma’am, it’s in ten months,” Combs said during her speech. The cadets’ anticipation to complete their senior year and pin on their gold bars was evident.
Once the colors were retired, the two troops of cadets were moved to the position of attention and formally released by their leadership. Swarms of parents and loved ones rushed towards the formations of cadets, finally reunited after a month of hard training. They embraced each other and other cadets, sharing a moment of happiness that they had completed one of the biggest milestones in a ROTC cadet’s career. The group began moving from the gym, either to collect equipment or to personal vehicles that would take them away from Fort Knox.
“It feels so good to be done,” said Cadet Robert Russel from St. Bonaventure University, flanked on both sides by family as he walked out of the gym.
By 10 a.m., 3rd Regiment had graduated. Now, it is on them to bring what they’ve learned back to their Universities, to train the cadets under them and prepare for next year’s summer training.
They learned leadership and excellence at Fort Knox. Now they must bring it home.