Jackson State University’s Army ROTC Tiger Battalion celebrated its 2021 commissioning earlier this month by elevating 13 cadets to second lieutenants, becoming among less than 1 percent of the population currently serving in the U.S. military.
Keynote speaker Major Gen. Donna Martin, speaking virtually, told the honorees they fall in a special category and are a “true inspiration to all around you.”
As the provost marshal general of the U.S. Army, Martin serves as the principal military adviser to the secretary of the Army and the chief of staff of the Army on policing matters. These include law enforcement, criminal investigations, criminal intelligence fusion, corrections and biometrics.
Lt. Col. Steven Robinson, professor of JSU’s Military Science, told the cadets they’ve developed “all the tools to make you successful in the U.S. Army.”
That was highlighted by Martin, too. She said, “During your time in this program, you were tested and proven.” She commended cadets for pursuing excellence and striving to be the best. “Take a moment to reflect on all that you have accomplished and think about what is yet to come.”
Also, during her address, Martin paid homage to past heroes for their “brave and loyal service.”
She said, “Our nation’s veterans represent the best of America. Generation after generation, men and women have answered the call to defend our country and our freedom by facing danger and uncertainly with uncommon courage. They have made tremendous sacrifices while leaving their families to serve throughout the homeland and in combat contingencies and humanitarian operations worldwide.”
After thanking the veterans, she turned her focus to the cadets. She told parents and loved ones they have every right to be proud of them.
Martin advised the service members that their commissioning is not about pledging loyalty to an individual or a political party but to the U.S. Constitution. She offered the following advice to help them succeed in their military career:
No. 1: Listen to non-commissioned officers because of their years of service and experience. “They will not lead you astray. They want your success as much as you do.”
No. 2: Trust in the education and training that you received.
No. 3: Listen, study and master your trade.
No. 4: Be a lifelong learner; read doctrine; seek a mentor; and be a mentor.
No. 5: Stay fit mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
No. 6: Don’t work for your evaluation report. Do your job well. Take care of your soldiers. “Accomplish your mission, and your evaluation will write itself.”
No. 7: Strive to make a difference every single day. Embrace whatever task is given to you.
No. 8: Bad things happen. “Strong leaders work through them and make them better and put processes and systems in place so that they don’t repeat.”
No. 9: Balance is important. Work hard. “Know that it’s OK to go to a soccer game or to be home for dinner.”
No. 10: Love your soldiers as if they are your own. Support your fellow officers. “These relationships will become increasingly more important as you progress in your military career.”
Martin then reminded the cadets that they are the “next generation of guardians of our founding principles. You are now being entrusted to defend the values we all hold dear. Your lives will forever be changed in a positive way for choosing to be part of the greatest team on earth.”
She said the military is unlike any other job in America and unlike any other profession.
“We take people will little or no work experience but with a huge will to learn, a will to serve; a desire to be part of something greater than themselves; and a belief that they can accomplish anything that they set their minds to.”
After earning their commissioning, Robinson reiterated several of those key points to the newly commissioned officers. He urged them to sit down with their platoon sergeants and reminded them that they are being watched by their soldiers. He also advised them to learn about their soldiers in every aspect, develop a well-rehearsed plan and provide mentorship to the soldiers.
Here are the newly commissioned officers of the Tiger Battalion:
- 2nd Lt. Marshall Banks
- 2nd Lt. Nia Collier
- 2nd Lt. Adrianna Cooper
- 2nd Lt. Redarius Fowler
- 2nd Lt. Lofton Gray
- 2nd Lt. Ashley Johnson
- 2nd Lt. Keyirie Johnson
- 2nd Lt. Desmond Jones
- 2nd Lt. Alexis Lewis
- 2nd Lt. Anissia May
- 2nd Lt. Frager McCline
- 2nd Lt. Javonta Roper
- 2nd Lt. Antoinette Williams
Meanwhile, in her final remarks, keynote speaker Martin said, “We are forever bonded in our mission to defend this great country. I’m proud to serve with you in the most powerful and professional armed forces in the world.”