What are you planning to do this Summer? The GKB is off and running and will be spread across the globe making things happen. It’s always an exciting time as our cadets head out to challenge themselves in many different places and many different ways.

We are starting this week to send the cadets that just completed their MS III/junior year to the Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), also known as Warrior Forge and a couple of our cadets just finishing their MS II/sophomore year to the Leader’s Training Course (LTC). Both of these training events are the type of hands on leadership training and evaluation that make Army ROTC leadership training unique.
Warrior Forge is essentially the “final exam” of Army ROTC training. The cadets who are headed out to LDAC will be tested on their land nav skills, physical fitness, tactical knowledge, and leadership abilities. They will each receive 6 blue card evaluations in accordance with LDP HANDBOOK – 1 Apr 2011
The Cadets headed to LTC are meeting the requirements of the Basic Course (normally the first two years of Army ROTC class). These Cadets entered the program late and the training they will attend will be a combination of evaluation and marketing, as the Cadet gets the opportunity to see what the Army has to offer and the LTC cadre are seeing if the Cadet has what it takes to enter the program. Our candidates this year are fully prepared and I expect all of them to be ready to contract when they return.
Along with these training courses we have Cadets headed to Airborne, Air Assault, and CULP trips. This year we were able to get an Airborne slot. Cadet Tanner Jones is there as I type. We got a number of Air Assault slots in a number of venues, and we will have Cadets learning to work with helicopters most of the summer. We have already had Cadet O’Donnell journey to Tunisia for CULP and we will have 5 more Cadets headed to places like Georgia (the country), Cape Verde, Peru, and Tanzania. 6 Cadets in all will experience another culture this year.

Mr. Vielhauer and Mr. Wash, two of our cadre, are at LDAC this summer, and we will have cadre and cadets at New York Boy’s State this year.
Some people think things slow down when summer arrives in ROTC land. Nothing could be further from the truth.


Here is some important information I will shamelessly share on my blog


Every graduation ceremony will be live-streamed on
our Ustream channel at starting 9 a.m. PST

Successful completion of Warrior Forge is perhaps the single most significant event in the multi-year Cadet leadership development process. As a result, family and friends of all graduates and commissionees are cordially invited to attend the graduation and commissioning ceremonies.

All graduations and commissioning ceremonies will be conducted on Watkins Field at Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s main post at 9:00 a.m. on the dates listed below. This is an hour-long outdoor ceremony, so please come prepared for the weather.

Graduation and commissioning ceremonies, by regiment for Warrior Forge, are:

  • 1st and 2nd Regiments: July 9
  • 3rd and 4th Regiments: July 13
  • 5th and 6th Regiments: July 17
  • 7th and 8th Regiments: July 21
  • 9th and 10th Regiments: July 26
  • 11th and 12th Regiments: July 30
  • 13th and 14th Regiments: August 3

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The Commissioning Ceremony

This year was a special year for commissioning ceremonies here in the North Country. Actually, every year is special, but the number of family members that played a special role, the number of departed cadets and cadre that returned, and the sheer number of cadets commissioned all made this year memorable. Here are just a couple of the highlights for me.

William Snyder

Bill Snyder receives his bars from a couple Marines
A little over four years ago I journeyed down to Lowville to give one of my four year scholarship winners his PT test. We set up a time to meet at the Lewis County Fairgrounds in Lowville, which had a track adequate for the 2 mile run. I arrived and met Bill’s father, a retired Marine Corps Major, and his younger brother, Joe, who was an athlete and in my eyes, a prospect. Flash forward to commissioning day and Bill’s father administering the oath, Bill’s father and his brother putting on his bars, and then Bill receiving his silver dollar salute from his brother who is now an enlisted Marine.

Green to Gold at Potsdam

LT Garza receives his bar from his daughter
The Kiser family putting the bars on Dad
LT Sauders receivs his bars

At Potsdam this year we saw the fruits of our Fort Drum Green to Gold office’s labor. Four Green to Gold Cadets and one Cadet who was a Green to Gold prospect finished their studies and commissioned. All four of the Green to Gold Cadets had children who helped pin their bars on. All the Commissioning Cadets at the ceremony had someone special swear them in, and Col Peterson was a terrific guest speaker, who swore Cadet Vasquez in, just as he did two years previously, when he reenlisted into the ROTC program.


This year we had five Distinguished Military Graduates (DMG). A DMG is defined as:

An ROTC graduate who has maintained a distinguished military student status throughout MSL IV and is in the top 20% of the National Accessions order of merit list (OML).

LTs Austin, Zanghi, Garza, Lambert, and Wilsey received DMG recognition this year. Those in the know (Dilys and Shirley) claim this is the most in recent memory. Of course this was a bigger commissioning class than usual, but our number of DMGs was still an accomplishment.

Dilys silver dollar salutes

A handful of Cadets this year chose to ask Mrs. Dilys Heinssen, our Human Resource Administrator (HRA) to be part of their Silver Dollar Salute. She is a retired Reserve Non-commissioned Officer, and over the years has played an instrumental role in processing all the paperwork involved with their ROTC career from contracting and enrolling to commissioning. It was nice to see her have the honor this year of a handful of first salutes.

Cummings Mother/Swartz Grandmother

As the father of two daughters and someone who has a lot of respect for strong women in the military this year was very special. Among the former Officers who played a role in the festivities at St Lawrence were two female veterans. LT Cummings was sworn in by her mother, Candyce who is a retired Army Major, and LT Swartz had one of his bars placed on his uniform by his grandmother, Mary Mills, who served in World War Two as a captain.