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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

100-plus to commission as military officers

Texas A&M prides itself on its military history. On Friday, more than 100 students will commission as officers in the U.S. military and join the Aggies who went before them.
Shelby Rittman, lead office assistant for the Corps of Cadets discipline office, said the group of students being commissioned this year is the highest since 1984. The Corps expects between 120 and 130 commissionees in the Army (62), Air Force (41), Marine Corps (10) and the Navy (18), Rittman said.
The commissionees partake in a college experience exceedingly different from the average college student. Col. Paul Timoney, professor of naval science, said commissionees are not only required to take extra classes but must also engage in rigorous physical and mental training.
“In addition to [a commissionee’s] existing class work, they have to take the 21 to 24 additional credits required in order to commission, such as specific naval ROTC classes, ethics and leadership within military service,” Timoney said. “It is also      required to attend summer training for the past four years.”
Timoney said these requirements are absolutely vital to meeting the demands of a commissioned officer.      
Stephen Keehan, applied math senior and commissionee, is the commanding officer for Company K-2. He said his choice to be commissioned came from feeling a higher calling to give back to the country.
“As a person of age, I feel obligated to serve my country how I can,” Keehan said. “My brother served in the Army for four years and I was raised like this.”
The students who are commissioned can expect to serve anywhere. Lt. Col. Bill Meredith, executive officer of Texas A&M Army ROTC, said potential positions comprise of aviators, infantry men, intelligence officers, lawyers, chaplains and medical staff, among others.
“These Aggies serve all over the United States and some even go abroad,” Meredith said. “Some will leave right away and some in the early fall, but by this time next year they will be all over the globe.” 
Keehan said he will be serving as a submarine officer.
“I’ll be going to Charleston for six months to a year to do some training,” Keehan said. “I’m expecting a little more responsibility commissioning as an officer. I’m going with an open mind and ready to take the duty I have coming my way.”  
Commissioning students have to maintain the tricky responsibility of efficiently managing schoolwork and staying actively involved in their commissioning requirements. Even though these students have been working hard, Rittman said it is inevitable that some students do not meet the requirements of commissioning.
“Some do not make it because of their grades,” Rittman said. “But in instances like such, they usually have a second chance to make up that class and retake it. Many will just commission at a different ceremony.”
Meredith said the ceremony takes place in two parts.
“The ROTC commissioning ceremony is separate and is a much more private affair reserved for family and friends,” Meredith said. “The university commissioning takes place right after and is public.”
The ceremony begins by administering the oath of office and swearing against all enemies, domestic and foreign, Meredith said.
“A couple cadets are recognized, especially the youngest second lieutenant and the oldest veteran in attendance,” Meredith said. “Another tradition within the Army is when a second lieutenant is newly commissioned and his entrance in the brotherhood of arms is recognized, he is presented with a silver dollar. This tradition has been going on since the late 18th century.”
Timoney said, upon getting officially inducted as officers, the commissionees are given a ceremonial first salute.
“When commissionees are saluted for the first time, it’s an indication of the burden of responsibility,” Timoney said. “Afterwards at the university commissioning ceremony, Aggies who have served over the past 137 years are honored. It all goes back to recognize military tradition and the service of Aggies that continues past to present.”
Despite engaging in a demanding college experience, going through rigorous training and preparing for a life full of hard work and stringent leadership, Timoney said those who commission dream of committing to a cause greater than themselves.
 “The students I’ve talk to have a deep desire of serving their country and are willing to take on the added responsibilities,” Timoney said. “Many of them have grown up with these values. It all ties back to what they learned at A&M and the Aggie values — there are a lot of Aggies out there serving, excelling and making a difference despite being in harm’s way.”

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