Senior ROTC students to receive commissions virtually
Luciana Thomas | Friday, May 15, 2020
Seniors of the Notre Dame Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program will receive their commissions May 16 in an online ceremony via Zoom to officially begin their careers in the U.S. military. This year, 52 seniors from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, Holy Cross , Valparaiso University and Bethel College will receive their military commissions for the Navy, Air Force and Army.
Lt. Col. George Lachicotte, professor of military science, is responsible for training, education, mentoring and development of all ROTC cadets. He said seeing these seniors develop through the program has been an amazing experience.
“Watching them grow from people who were unsure about themselves, lacked confidence and then as each year goes on, we put more and more leadership responsibilities on their shoulders, and by the time they are seniors, they’re running the entire cadet corps, what we call a battalion,” Lachicotte said. “For me at that point, I give them minimal guidance. … They do a tremendous job. They are self-starters, have huge amounts of initiative and are extremely intelligent human beings that, quite frankly, have found the confidence to be able to stand in front of soldiers when they graduate and take charge.”
According to Col. Corey Ramsby, professor of aerospace studies, the biggest accomplishment of the ROTC seniors is their response to COVID-19. Since the seniors lead the battalion, they are in charge of keeping everyone trained and motivated. COVID-19 proved to be a big leadership challenge.
“[The senior cadets] used 21st-century solutions for 21st-century problems,” Ramsby said. “Every training objective was met despite the physical distancing. This lays the foundation for even more advancements going forward.”
The way the seniors were able to step up and continue to lead the freshmen, sophomores and juniors “in the face of this huge challenge” was their biggest accomplishment this year, Lachicotte said. Leadership is one of the core values the ROTC program teaches, and it shows in the jobs of the cadets after their commissions.
Midshipman (MIDN) Daniel O’Connor of Navy ROTC will be a surface warfare officer in the Navy when he commissions.
“I’ll be the primary point of contact in charge of the team on the bridge of the U.S.S. Forrest Sherman,” O’Connor said. “On top of that, I’ll be running a division of about a dozen sailors in charge of a particular aspect of the ship. This could be something like all the electronics on board, auxiliary missionary or weaponry.”
According to O’Connor, the Navy Leadership Weekend is one of the highlight events of the year. This event allows for Navy ROTC cadets to learn about and critically examine the principles of leadership from some of the top leaders in the Navy.
“We invite several high-level Navy and Marine Corps officers to speak from around the country,” says O’Connor. “The conference brings in around 300 MIDN from units across the U.S. on top of the 100 or so we have at Notre Dame.”
The Navy ROTC will commission 30 officers, while the Army and Air Force programs will commission 16 and six officers respectively Saturday. A link to the commissioning ceremony livestream will be put up on the ND Fighting Irish Media and ND ROTC’s social media pages.