Arriving at the culmination of spring semester, both Army and Air Force ROTC honored its 2022 commissioning. Jackson State University (JSU) Army ROTC Tiger Battalion commissioned eight cadets to 2nd lieutenants and Air Force ROTC commissioned six cadets, becoming the largest class of commissioned officers since the inception of the Air Force program in 2005.
Family, friends, and fellow military officers filled the College of Business Thursday afternoon in support of the JSU Army ROTC Tiger Battalion who were honored for their promotion to 2nd lieutenants.
Keynote speaker Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Lesile C. Smith reminded the newly commissioned officers of the importance of trust, the need to have a ‘why’ as they embark on their military journey, and the power behind their profession.
“Becoming a lieutenant in the United States army whether or not you’re active, guard, or reserve, you’re joining a profession. You’re held to a different standard, we don’t walk the same way, we don’t talk the same way, we don’t do things the same way,” said Smith.
Reflecting on his Army career, Smith extolled the importance of establishing a solid foundation built on trust as many of the commissioned officers will take on more responsibility following their deployment.
“The most important thing when creating a building is the foundation and the bedrock of that is trust. That trust is the trust you will build in the platoons and sections that you will lead, not because you’re in charge, but because you serve them,” said Smith.
In wake of recent international turmoil in Ukraine and the COVID pandemic, Smith expressed a sense of urgency upon the newly commissioned to remind them that the stakes are higher than ever. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that they remain passionate about providing honorable service and must always remain a steward of their craft.
He said, “Even when you enter into your platoons, continue to build your expertise…always strive to do the right thing, the right way, all the time.”
Smith concluded his speech offering the following advice to help them succeed in their military career:
No. 1: Understand the ‘why’ behind your profession.
No. 2: Establish a solid foundation built upon trust.
No. 3: Build upon your expertise, do something different as you grow.
No. 4: Be honorable in service, strive for excellence in all things, always.
No. 5: Stewardship, always be mindful of what and/or who you are responsible for.
The newly commissioned officers of the Tiger Battalion include:
2nd Lt. Alfred Barnes, Quartermaster Corps, Active Duty
2nd Lt. Aaron Cummings, Transportation Corps, Active Duty
2nd Lt. Benjamin Douglas, Engineer Corpos, National Guard
2nd Lt. Audriana Howard, Ordnance Corps, Active Duty
2nd Lt. Teanna Howard, Ordnance Corps, National Guard
2nd Lt. Audreanna Steele, Transportation Corps, Army Reserves
2nd Lt. Makala Scott, Signal Corps, Army Reserves
2nd Lt. Jasmine Weatherspoon, Medical Service Corps, National Guard
Air Force ROTC Commissioning
Last Friday afternoon, Air Force ROTC gathered at the Allen C. Thompson Field Air National Guard Base to honor a historic class of commissioned officers. With six JSU cadets and one cadet from Mississippi College in total, this marked the largest class commissioned since the inception of the program in 2005.
“This is the largest class to graduate and commission from detachment six, since it was established in 2005, that speaks volumes because I’m sure that all of you played a pivotal role in the lives of these young leaders who are ready for the challenge and demands that awaits them in the very near future,” said Lt. Col. Natosha Reed as she provided welcoming remarks.
Keynote speaker Brigadier General (Ret) Ronald E. Jolly Sr. instilled in the newly commissioned cadets the importance of embodying officership, gaining respect and trust, and to embrace leadership.
Jolly Sr. described officership as, “the position, rank, or profession of an officer, the function or conduct of an officer who must accept responsibility for not just doing a job, but also assuming a way of life.”
He emphasized the distinction of their profession reminding them that people will always be aware of their actions and behavior, it becomes their duty then to guard that reputation and carry the responsibility on their shoulders everywhere they may go.
Furthermore, Jolly Sr. expounded on the journey towards establishing concrete trust and respect as they assume the responsibility of leading airmen in their various squads.
“You have the responsibility to gain their trust, they know customs and courtesy. They know rank, they know organizational structure, but trust and respect, you have to gain that, it does not come with rank,” said Jolly Sr. “The respect that you owe them and the respect that you need to gain is because of your character. That’s going to take you far in our United States Air Force.”
Jolly Sr. also urged the new officers to embrace the difficulty of leading through adversity and always move forward despite what one may encounter. “That may be one of the hardest things that you will have to do. But remember, it’s not a choice, it’s required and something you will have to do. So embrace leadership, not just a leadership position, but embrace and be a true leader.”
He reminded them of the “Airman’s Creed” and the intentional words etched out for them to live by throughout their Air Force career. “The airman’s creed starts with, I am an airman. I am an American airman, I’m a warrior, and I have answered the nation’s call…we don’t quit, you don’t get that option, we move and we move forward with purpose. Your leadership to us is moving forward with purpose.”
In closing, Jolly Sr. encouraged the officers to lean on the strength of community for their support and stability, both blood family and the family gained through the United States Air Force. “You will not serve alone…The U.S. Air Force, that is your family. Those are your brothers and sisters in arms. And when you take away the two periods, that period behind the U and the period behind the S, what do you get? US.”
The newly commissioned officers of the Air Force ROTC include:
2nd Lt. Victory Brown, Logistics Readiness Officer, Active Duty
2nd Lt. Cameryn A. Fairley, Force Support Officer, Vandenberg Space Force
2nd Lt. Ahmad C. Gage, Nuclear and Missile Operations Officer, Vandenberg Space Force
2nd Lt. Tylor B. Knox, Force Support Officer, Offutt Air Force Base, Active Duty
2nd Lt. Cameron D. Nelson, Developmental Engineer (Electrical Engineering), Active Duty
2nd Lt. Martrell D. Robinson, Logistics Readiness Officer, Luke Air Force
Newly commissioned officer and JSU graduate, Tylor Knox, expressed deep relief and overall excitement for the next chapter in her military journey having already established consistency in her tenure as a student leader.
“I was chief of staff this semester and last semester I was trained squad commander. Some people don’t get the opportunity to just have a single position each semester, which is hard, but it prepares you for commissioning.” said Knox, a criminal justice major from Clinton who later moved to Camdenton, MO.
Post JSU, Knox looks forward to acting on her goals and beginning to accomplish all she has prepared for during undergraduate training. “It felt like a trial period for life, for how your life could be and then going into commissioning, it’s like, this is how your life can actually start.”
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Media Contact: Kyle Kidd, firstname.lastname@example.org