WSU cadets ready to lead in US Army

LAURA GUIDO | Evergreen reporter

Sixteen cadets from the Cougar Battalion have become commissioned officers in the U.S. Army.

A commissioning ceremony for the WSU Army ROTC took place Friday afternoon in the Lewis Alumni Center.

“They have earned the right to lead America’s young men and women in our army, and we are rightly proud of them,” said Lt. Col. Todd Plotner, a WSU professor of military science, of the newly commissioned students.

Plotner said their new roles could be daunting but offered some advice during the ceremony.

He said the newly appointed second lieutenants must steer focus away from themselves in order to accomplish great things. Additionally he urged them not to receive haircuts from their soldiers.

The ceremony began with an oath of office facilitated by guest speaker Col. Duane Hardesty.

Some cadets received their oaths from veteran family members in attendance.

Each cadet received his or her bars individually. Family members and significant others assisted in pinning the bars on the cadets’ shoulders.

During the closing ceremony, each cadet received a first salute from someone who was influential in his or her development—a friend, a family member or a leader involved in the cadet’s training.

Each of the second lieutenants then gave a silver dollar to the enlisted soldier who saluted them.

Maj. Garry Nestler said the silver dollar tradition might have started in the British Army. It is an acknowledgement of respect for one’s new rank and position.

Commissioning officers from WSU is a long-held tradition as well. Nestler said the university once served as a charter school and has been commissioning officers since the 1890s.

“It’s pretty amazing that they are going to be part of that legacy,” he said.

New lieutenant Taylor Olson, a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering, said the process required a lot of work but was worth the effort. Olsen said the ceremony itself was not his end goal.

“I was going for developing myself as a person and as an officer, because one day I’m going to be leading soldiers,” he said. “It’s not for the day, it’s for the future.”

In addition to the commissioning of the cadets, student Brittany Beavis was promoted to the rank of captain during the ceremony.

Beavis earned her commissioning at Cornell University and came to WSU to obtain her doctorate in veterinary medicine through the educational delay program with the Army.

Upon completing their medical degrees officers become captains and enter active duty.