Army ROTC Graduates Celebrate

By Melissa Peerless

Army ROTC Graduates Celebrate

By Melissa Peerless
At a May 9 commissioning ceremony, 16 members of the Southern Strike Battalion graduated into military service.

The Army Song rang out in the Newman Alumni Center last weekend, as 16 members of the Southern Strike Battalion transitioned from Cadets to Second Lieutenants at a spirited and sentimental Commissioning Ceremony.

The Army ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program has recently returned to the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences, offering students basic military training and officer training during their time at college. Upon graduation, they are commissioned as Second Lieutenants, and begin military service.

University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala opened the ceremony, noting, “Every generation of my family has served in the U.S. Army.”

Second Lieutenant Robert Formica – who earned his A.B. in history from the UM College of Arts & Sciences – served as the U-Co Company Commander. The future military intelligence officer called the Battalion “one of the most distinguished groups to come through this program in decades.”

Of 5,380 officers commissioned through ROTC this spring, two members of Southern Strike Battalion are in the top 100 nationwide.

Formica said, “Our journeys to this moment started with a dream to serve these United States, to give back to a country that has given so much.”

He called his fellow officers “a family of soldiers,” but noted the importance of support from family and friends on their journeys.

Guest speaker Colonel Charles Samaris, who was Army ROTC at the University of Miami decades ago, agreed.

“The strength of a nation is its Army. The strength of an army is its soldiers. The strength of the soldiers are their families,” he said.

He advised the new officers to be “smart, tough and adaptable.”

Formica urged: “Ask not how you can reinvent the wheel, but how you can add more traction to it.”      

The highlights of the ceremony were the execution of the Army Oath of Office, and the Pinning Ceremony, when selected family members to affix the officers’ new credentials on their uniforms.

These were followed by the First Salute, an Army tradition, whereby each Second Lieutenant receives his or her first salute from a non-commissioned officer of his or her choosing.

“Your exceptional education and military training have prepared you to thrive,” President Shalala said. “You carry with you the promise of extraordinary service to our country.”