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JSU congratulates newly minted 2nd lieutenants preparing to defend nation

JSU President William B. Bynum Jr. and Lt. Col. Dexter Brookins congratulate five new second lieutenants and an alum earning the rank of lieutenant colonel during a commissioning ceremony. The honorees are Lt. Col. Natalie Bynum, left, and 2nd Lieutenants Gabriel E. Brown, Louis J. Hall, Ebony C. Dunlap, Andrea N. Thomas and Rolundra O. Rhodes. (Photo by Aron Smith/JSU)

JSU President William B. Bynum Jr. and Lt. Col. Dexter Brookins congratulate five new second lieutenants and an alum earning the rank of lieutenant colonel during a commissioning ceremony. The honorees are Lt. Col. Natalie Bynum, left, and 2nd Lieutenants Gabriel E. Brown, Louis J. Hall, Ebony C. Dunlap, Andrea N. Thomas and Rolundra O. Rhodes. (Photo by Aron Smith/JSU)

L.A. Warren Newest Byline

Brigadier Gen. (Ret.) Robert Crear, a JSU alum, recently saluted five cadets being commissioned as second lieutenants and recognized their bravery to protect a nation at war for more than 18 years since the 2001 terrorist attacks.

During a ceremony by the College of Liberal Arts on April 26 in the JSU Student Center ballroom, Crear thanked honorees for answering the call of duty to serve their country and fellow citizens.

“With everything you’ve done … you’ve grown together as a team … along with your willingness to take on a difficult and dangerous path,” he said.

“You are special because you have chosen to serve and defend the dreams of others. This sets you apart from others. … You join a long line of patriots for a noble cause, and you’ll have you chance to make history.”

Crear has held many assignments worldwide in his nearly 23-year active-duty career, including as military assistant to the assistant secretary at the Pentagon. He also served on the ground in Iraq and aided in the infrastructure recovery and restoration efforts in Mississippi and Louisiana after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

He reminded the crowd that the founder of JSU’s ROTC, Dr. John A. Peoples Jr., knew the institutions would produce a reputation of worldwide leaders. Because of the efforts of Peoples, now president emeritus of JSU, the Tiger Battalion to date has commissioned more than 800 cadets, with four of those leaders becoming General officers.

“JSU has a proud legacy, Crear said, and the Army ROTC is now under the capable leadership of Lt. Col. Dexter Brookins.” Because of this guidance, “you have a solid foundation to excel as young officers.”

Brigadier Gen. (Ret.) Robert Crear, a JSU alum with a nearly 23-year active-duty career, told cadets being commissioned as second lieutenants “you are special because you have chosen to serve and defend the dreams of others. This sets you apart from others. … You join a long line of patriots for a noble cause.” Photo by Aron Smith/JSU)

Brigadier Gen. (Ret.) Robert Crear, a JSU alum with a nearly 23-year active-duty career, told cadets being commissioned as second lieutenants “you are special because you have chosen to serve and defend the dreams of others. This sets you apart from others. … You join a long line of patriots for a noble cause.” Photo by Aron Smith/JSU)

Newly promoted U.S. Army Lt. Col. Natalie Bynum is congratulated by U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chris Wright. Bynum is a 2001 graduate who was commissioned by JSU ROTC. While at JSU, she was a J-Sette and a member of the Delta Pi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. This summer, she will become the chair and professor of military science at North Carolina AT&T. (Photo by Aron Smith/JSU)

Newly promoted U.S. Army Lt. Col. Natalie Bynum is congratulated by U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chris Wright. Bynum is a 2001 graduate who was commissioned by JSU ROTC. While at JSU, she was a J-Sette and a member of the Delta Pi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. This summer, she will become the chair and professor of military science at North Carolina AT&T. (Photo by Aron Smith/JSU)

Crear recalled that he joined the military because he wanted to be judged by his character rather than the color of his skin.

“As a result, I took to ROTC like a duck takes to water. I was able to live my dream,” he said.

Before the pinning ceremony, Crear told cadets “each of you will be called leaders for the rest of your military life.”

The new second lieutenants are:

  • Gabriel E. Brown, Bachelor of Science in biology in JSU’s College of Liberal Arts: he will commission into the Army National Guard as a medical service corps officer. His first assignment will be at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.
  • Ebony C. Dunlap, Bachelor of Science in JSU’s College of Liberal Arts: she will commission as an active-duty second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps. Her first assignment will be at Fort Lee in Virginia.
  • Louis J. Hall, Bachelor of Criminal Justice in JSU’s College of Liberal Arts: he will commission as a second lieutenant as a the Mississippi Army National Guard officer in the chemical corps. His first assignment will be at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
  • Rolundra O. Rhodes, Bachelor of Science in business administration at Mississippi College School of Business: she will commission as a U.S. Army Reserve second lieutenant. Her first assignment will be at Fort Jackson in South Carolina.
  • Andrea N. Thomas, Bachelor of Science in biology in JSU’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology: she will commission as an active-duty Adjutant General’s corps officer. Her first assignment will be at the Adjutant General’s School, U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute at Fort Gordon in Georgia.

Meanwhile, Crear urged new officers to commit to excellence in several key areas:

  • Leadership: a leader knows when to follow
  • Vision: see beyond today’s task and challenges; look beyond tomorrow
  • Integrity: remember this as the price of admission; without integrity leadership is impossible because officers do not lie, steal or cheat nor allow anyone else to do so
  • Self-confidence: there’s no room for egotism; quiet, self-assurance allows leaders to give others real responsibility; delegate and trust others to bring results
  • Personal courage: develop the ability to chart a new course; encourage others to do what is right and not just popular; speak truth to power
  • Teambuilding: work together to create group dynamics but be able to stand alone and express when something is wrong or disagreeable
  • Simple common decency: treat those around you with respect. Use authority over others for constructive purposes by watching over them and easing their hardships; this principle can be accomplished without compromising authority
  • Have a sense of humor

Finally, Crear directed the newest officers of the U.S.  Army to “never forget where you came from and always be willing to give back.”