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ROTC program commanders evaluate success of senior cadets

| Friday, May 19, 2017

After four years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication, this year’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) seniors will receive their commissions at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on Saturday, May 20, marking their transition into active or reserve duty. The commanders of all three units of Notre Dame’s ROTC praised their seniors for their abilities to implement and manage programs within their units.

“The beauty of watching them [execute programs] is watching them develop as leaders on their own … they self-organize, they figure out how to do this and through that struggle, that process of learning from failure is super important for their development,” Capt. John Carter, commanding officer of Naval ROTC, said.

ROTC_WEBLauren Weldon | The Observer

Working with high caliber students, each commander said, is a privilege. ROTC students — who come from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, Bethel College, Indiana University South Bend and Valparaiso University — do community service, engage in intense physical training and complete technical education with military equipment on top of rigorous course loads. Lt. Col. Christopher Pratt from Army ROTC said the students’ dedication astounds him.

“It just speaks volumes of the quality and the intellect and the flexibility and the type of individuals they are,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them and what they’ve accomplished.”

ROTC seniors take on major responsibilities throughout the year by leading their battalions and heading the disparate organizations that fall under each branch of ROTC, from service projects to physical fitness competitions, according to Col. James Bowen of Air Force ROTC.

“They offered our freshmen and sophomores, for the first time, the opportunity to be an invested part of the wing and have a job and be directly responsible for whether we succeed or fail,” he said. “It gave those young people a sense of ownership that I don’t think they had before.”

Carter said students remind him of the necessity of ROTC to the survival and progress of the armed forces.

“When you interact with students, they tend to question things that you just assume is that way and no other way and can’t change, but they question things, and that questioning is a very good thing because it forces us to challenge things that we don’t think we can change but maybe we can,” he said. “That has been a very rewarding piece of working here.”

Despite the small size of the Army senior class — just six are commissioning this year — Pratt said he continually emphasized the importance of quality over quantity, not just for this class but in the military in general. The seniors’ chief accomplishment, he said, was winning the President’s Cup, a year-long competition comprised of football, basketball and soccer.

“It was truly a team event,” Pratt said. “Even if you weren’t an active participant in one of the events, everybody was there supporting it, everybody was there as part of it. It really brought the whole group together.

“It’s about coming together as an organization and accomplishing something bigger that you couldn’t do as an individual … I think that was a great moment for them.”

All three commanders said they appreciate and value the sacrifices their students make and the virtues they display on a daily basis.

“The air force runs three core values we teach our kids every day,” Bowen said. “The first one is integrity, the second one is service before self and the third is excellence in everything we do. If you think about what those words really mean, it talks about holding yourself to a higher standard, it’s sacrificing to be that servant leader we want these young men and women to grow up to be.”

The Army ROTC will commission six officers, the Navy will commission 25 and the Air Force will commission eight in a ticketed ceremony Saturday morning.


The seniors commissioning from the Army ROTC are:

Joseph Berry (ND) – Army Reserve Officer

Elise Brady (ND) – Army Reserve Officer

Patrick Crane (ND) – Army Reserve Officer

Emilie Vanneste (SMC) — Active Duty Officer


The seniors commissioning from the Air Force ROTC are:

Henry Walker Carlson (ND) – Aircraft Maintenance Officer

John Dean (ND) – Pilot training

Michael Hillmer (ND) – Cyber Operations training

Kathryn Koch (ND) – Operations Research Analyst

Megan O’Bryan (SMC) – Personnel Officer

Benjamin Richmond (ND) – Electrical Engineer

James Ryan (ND) – Combat Systems Operator training


The seniors commissioning from the Naval ROTC are:

Kehinde Asojo (ND) – Surface Warfare Officer

Tyler Dale (ND) – Submarines

John Dunigan (ND) – Pilot

Walker Embrey (ND) – Submarines

Payton Erlemeier (ND) – Surface Warfare Officer

Brendan Galloway (ND) – Submarines

Ellen Halverson  (ND) – Submarines

Benjamin Hoffner  (ND) – Surface Warfare Officer

Meadow Jackson (ND) – Surface Warfare Officer/Intelligence Officer

Yongjin Jeon (ND) – Naval Flight Officer

Michael Kappaz (ND) – Submarines

Jared Lee (ND) – Naval Flight Officer

Brian McGee (ND) – Pilot

Kristen Ringwall (ND) – Surface Warfare Officer

Peter Rodgers (ND) – Surface Warfare Officer

Rebecca Ryan (ND) – Pilot

Katherine Smart (ND) – Surface Warfare Officer

Dylan Staats (ND) – Pilot

Eileen Sullivan (ND) – Surface Warfare Officer

Ian Tembe (ND) – Pilot

John Walker IV (ND) – Submarines

Abigail Waller (SMC) – Nurse

Nicholas Yusko (ND) – Pilot

Zachary Zubic (ND)– Marine

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