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ROTC seniors prepared to begin assignments

Emma Driscoll | Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fifty-three officers from Notre Dame’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps will be commissioned at the tri-military ceremony Saturday at 9 a.m. in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

Once the seniors are commissioned, they are considered active duty military and will join the military services full time, Lieutenant Michael R. Lipke, Assistant Professor of Naval Sciences said.

Vice Admiral Robert T. Conway, Jr. will be the commissioning officer and keynote speaker.

A total of 24 Navy Ensigns, four Marine Corps Second Lieutenants, 16 Air Force Second Lieutenants and nine Army Second Lieutenants will be commissioned.

The four seniors commissioned as Marine Corps Second Lieutenants will go to the Marine Corps, Captain Dale M. Nees, USM, Professor of Naval Science and Commanding Officer of the Naval ROTC Unit University of Notre Dame, said.

Of the Navy Ensigns, seven are going into aviation to be Navy pilots, eight will enter surface warfare, and six will be going working with nuclear submarines, Nees said. Two students are pursuing medical options and one will be entering a nuclear engineering program, Nees said.

Midshipman Jason Dodge will be attending Navy flight school in Pensacola, Florida after being commissioned as an ensign.

“I’m really excited about it,” Dodge said. “It’s a huge privilege and huge opportunity because I’ve always wanted to fly and the Navy’s giving me a chance to do it.”

Dodge said that while the Notre Dame ROTC program has prepared him as best as possible, he still expects aviation to be challenging.

“I feel like the Navy Notre Dame program did as best a job as they could to prepare me for the Navy in general, but for something as complicated and involved as aviation, it’s intimidating because I’m going to be in school for approximately two years going through the various stages of flight training,” Dodge said. “I’m very excited for it, but it’s going to be a bit of a daunting task.”

The commitment for scholarship Navy ROTC students is four years of active duty service and four years of inactive reserves, but this can change depending on what type of warfare special officers become involved in, Nees said.

Dodge said he does not foresee staying in the military after his commitment because there are other goals that he would like to pursue, including starting a family.

“I’d say after my initial commitment of 10 years or so I’d probably be about done, but anything is possible,” he said.

Midshipman Patrick Grainey will head to Kuroneko, Va., in June after being commissioned as second lieutenant to train with the marines for six months, but will not find out where he will go after training for some time. After his four-year commitment, Grainey is not sure whether or not he will choose to stay in the Marine Corps but would consider it.

“I’ll have to kind of wait and see how I like what I’m doing,” he said. “I’m definitely open to the possibility but haven’t made up my mind yet.”

Two Air Force second lieutenants will be in Intelligence, one in Logistics and two will be Weather Officers. Others will be in Air Battle Management, Space and Missiles. engineering or human resources and one will be attending law school, according to Colonel Dennis Mitchell, Professor of Aerospace Science and Commanding Officer of the Air Force ROTC Unit.

“They’ll probably be supervising people and making decision on very expensive equipment at a young age … the military is known for giving people a lot of responsibility very quickly and that is why we have the preparation training programs at ROTC,” Mitchell said.

After being commissioned second lieutenant, Jasmin Jones will be attending nine months of intelligence school at Goodfellow Air Force base in San Angelo, Texas. She feels both prepared for and excited about her assignment to intelligence, which was her first choice. Two weeks ago she went on a base visit with the Air Force ROTC program to Alaska where she was able to talk with current intelligence officers.

“I got to talk to intelligence officers about the career field and they told me what to expect, what you need to know,” Jones said.

Cadet Margaret Lindley, a nursing student at Saint Mary’s, will not be commissioned Saturday because she will be taking the nursing board exams later this year. She will be commissioned after her exams and then will enter an Air Force nurse transition program.

Two Army ROTC officers will be going into the reserve side of the Army and the other seven will go to active duty posts worldwide, Lt. Cmdr. Mike Wawrzyniak, a Professor of Military Science Science and the Commanding Officer of the Army ROTC said. Scholarship Army ROTC graduates also have a commitment of four years of active duty and four years in the reserves.

Wawrzyniak expects graduates to participate in combat soon after graduation.

“We can pretty much expect that most of these graduates will deploy to Afghanistan or Iraq within a year or two years after graduation,” he said.

The Army ROTC program seeks to instill leadership skills in graduates, Wawrzyniak said.

“We focus on getting them ready to be a platoon leader out in the Army and to face some of the challenges that are part of the environment that we’re currently in, so our focus is on leadership skills they need to be able to communicate and work with people,” he said.

Soon after being commissioned as a second lieutenant, Chris Hippleheuser will be training in Fort Lewis in Washington and then to Oklahoma before leaving to spend a year in South Korea next February. He will be in field artillery for four years.

“I was excited [about my assignment]. It was my first choice, I really wanted to go to a different country,” he said.

He said the leadership skills that he has learned as an Army ROTC officer will serve him well as he moves forward.

Cadet Hayden Piscal will be attending flight school to become a med-evac helicopter pilot after being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.

“I’ll be flying a Blackhawk [helicopter] but my job will be to pick up injured soldiers. So I’ll fly them from wherever they are to a hospital,” she said.

ROTC officers agreed that their experience with ROTC has influenced their college experience and their personal development because the program has allowed them to develop leadership skills, learn to manage time and meet and create friendships with other ROTC officers.

“It made my life a lot more regimented … Navy created additional responsibilities that made me work more efficiently and effectively with the time that I had,” Dodge said. “I wasn’t lazy, I didn’t waste my time. I had to make the most of everything. It made my time here at Notre Dame better and I can’t imagine what it would have been like without it.”