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ROTC seniors commission as officers

By Christian Myers | Wednesday, May 15, 2013

 

As most members of the Class of 2013 move on to employment and further education, the participants of Notre Dame’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) will commission as officers in the United States Military.

Saint Mary’s senior and Navy ROTC midshipman Devon Graham said because of ROTC, her post-graduation plans are very different from those of her friends. “A lot of my friends are considering medical school, graduate schools or figuring out if they want to take a year off,” Graham said. “It is so nice to know that I have a job when I graduate and it isn’t just a job.”   Senior and Army ROTC cadet Ted Spinelli said officer commissions place a burden on him and his fellow cadets that most men and women their age do not carry.

“There is an immense weight of responsibility that comes with [officer commissions] because many of us will be in charge of the lives of others in less than a year’s time,” Spinelli said. “In this line of business, to give anything less than 100 percent effort to physical and mental preparation on a daily basis could be catastrophic or fatal. That is a responsibility that I do not take lightly.”

Senior and Navy ROTC midshipman Brian Van Metre said the level of responsibility is humbling, but he and his fellow officer candidates welcome it as an opportunity to make an impact on their communities.

“I don’t believe that there is any job outside the military where I would have as much responsibility at 22 years old,” Van Metre said. “I think all of us who are about to commission are both humbled by that fact and extremely excited to start making a difference.”

Spinelli said the bonds he formed with his fellow cadets through their commitment to the program enriched his ROTC experience.

“I loved ROTC here at Notre Dame,” Spinelli said. “The young men and women I have had the privilege of working with are fantastic students, leaders, and individuals. 

On a personal level, the Army ROTC program at Notre Dame surrounded me with people who share my same ideals. It provided an immediate, loyal group of friends that I now consider to be my family.”

Graham said she greatly enjoyed her experience in Navy ROTC [NROTC], and the friendships she gained more than made up for the difficult times.

“There are always hard times, and we all go through a time that we question if this is the right path for us, which you should because it is a huge decision,” Graham said. “I couldn’t be happier that I am in the NROTC program at Notre Dame. The friends and contacts I have made are unforgettable.”

Van Metre also said the friendships he made with his fellow midshipmen helped sustain the rigors of participating in ROTC.

“It’s a very big time commitment during the school year. Waking up early for [physical training] and having an extra one to two classes every semester can drain you towards the end,” Van Metre said. “Luckily, you’re generally not alone and can rely on friends in the same boat to help get you through.”

Graham said Navy ROTC provided her with exciting opportunities, such as “driving a submarine or flying a C-130,” while 

Courtney said he shadowed a field artillery lieutenant in Hawaii for three weeks. Van Metre said through the Navy ROTC summer training program, he performed aerial acrobatics in planes, fired guns with the Marines,  trained with Navy SEALs and flew in a V-22 Osprey

Van Metre said he and the other Navy ROTC seniors will commission May 18, after which he will report to the USS Mobile Bay, a cruiser stationed in San Diego, Calif.

Courtney said beginning July 19, his commission will take him to Fort Benning, Ga., where he will participate in the Armor Basic Officer Leadership Course), Army Reconnaissance Course and Ranger School on his way to a post in an armored unit. Once she receives her commission, Graham will attend flight school in Florida, where she hopes to receive her wings as a naval flight officer.

Spinelli said beginning in the fall, he will attend the Engineer Officer Basic Course and the United States Army Airborne school. He will then report to Fort Bragg, N.C. in April 2014.

Courtney said commissioning is not an end for ROTC seniors but rather, a meaningful moment in their continued efforts to become accomplished leaders. “[Commissioning] represents a big honor as well as a tremendous responsibility to continue to work and prepare ourselves so that we can be the best leaders of soldiers possible,” he said

By Christian Myers at                         cmyers8@nd.edu