Mark Rosenthal, GKB alumni, class of ’78 has shared his thoughts with me in the past, and a couple weeks ago (22 August to be exact) he contacted me again with some thoughts about history, tradition, and being Airborne.  As  a basic training XO I taught the history and tradition class to new soldiers. I can certainly relate to what he had to say. I value Army history and  tradition and think it is what makes being a soldier so special.  I have also worked  in the civilian world for a company (US Steel) with a proud history that made working in the mill special. Being part of something bigger than yourself has value.

40 years ago *this month* I was experiencing my first exposure to the “real Army” attending Jump School between my Sophomore and Junior years at Clarkson.

I returned to school with “the haircut” and shiny new jump wings.

Right now I am cruising at Flight Level 380 over Montana on my way home from a consulting gig.

Under the seat in front of me is my computer bag. Proudly displayed on it is the “AA” “Airborne” patch that I wore on my sleeve in 1980-82.

During my time on active duty, I wore a lot of patches on my left sleeve.
The Artillery School
2nd Infantry Division
82nd Airborne Division
XVIII Airborne Corps
3rd Armored Division

but it’s the 82nd patch that I display today. But had I not attended jump school at a Clarkson cadet, I likely would have taken a different path.

It’s not about “jumping out of airplanes.” (Key point: There are *no* “perfectly good airplanes” in the Air Force). Rather, it was / is about being a part of something bigger – a tradition that extends back to 1940, and to 1944. When I was in the division, our CG, MG Malloy pointed out that nobody says “Boy, I wish we were as good as the 4th Mech.”

In some previous email, I sent a photo of my wings under a Clarkson unit crest on a black background. Those pins are on my Clarkson Ranger beret. Those wings are the ones I got at graduation, and are engraved “Aug 27, 1976” on the back – the day I got them. I carried that beret in my cargo pocket on my first jump with the 82nd as well, because, well, I wanted to connect my Clarkson Ranger experience with that one.

So… “Congratulations” to any cadets who have pinned on new jump wings over the summer. My message is this – those three weeks can change your life in subtle ways you don’t realize. Those wings aren’t a merit badge. They are a tradition.

PS – Our pilot for the flight out of BWI was also waiting for the plane this afternoon. I noticed his tie tack was a small jump wings pin. I approached him and said I liked his tie tack, and pointed to the patch on my bag. He had attended jump school as an Air Force cadet in 1979. He went on to be a transport pilot, and now flies Airbus A320’s for Delta. He never went on jump status, yet all of these years later, THAT is what he wears as a tie tack. Pretty cool.

“All The Way!”

This Summer 9 Cadets completed Air Assault training and one Cadet attended Airborne school and earned jump wings.  Clarkson Army ROTC continues the tradition of Cadets taking on the challenges offered over the summer.

How and where to start

When I started this blog 6 years ago (holy crap! 6 years ago!) some of the first posts were about how to start the scholarship process and how to get started in Army ROTC.  Time to bump that info back to the top of the blog and freshen it up a little. The optimal target audience for this information is a high school junior finishing up their junior year.  That student is considering college and has a desire to serve in the military. If you aren’t a high school junior and are interested we should still talk, there are plenty of ways to become an Army Officer. Here’s what I think my optimal audience should do.

Step one – do your research

Visit …poke around on the site.  Understand that Army ROTC is a program that trains college students to serve as Army Officers when they graduate from college. Look at the requirements.  Don’t be afraid to contact an Army ROTC Battalion and talk to an Enrollment Officer if you have questions.

Along with researching ROTC opportunities you’ll also need to figure out where you want to attend college and what you want to study.  You won’t be majoring in Army ROTC.  The internet is a great source of material.  You can use a search engine to develop a list of schools that offer what you want.  Most University websites will give you a good idea what they offer.  You can also usually find information about Army ROTC battalions too.  In our case we have a wealth of information on the Clarkson University website, and on social media platforms like facebook and instagram.

Step two – apply for the scholarship

Watch this video first.

If you follow the link to you will find a link to the four-year High School Scholarships and on that page you can start your application.  It is first going to ask you to create a account.  It is very important that once you create this account you return to the ROTC page and log in here.  I publish the various dates for the scholarship process once they are released each year.  Typically the window to apply opens in June before a high school students senior year.  The first board meets in October and the deadline to start the process is in early January.  Watch this blog for the dates.

A WORD OF CAUTION…If you are on the site you will see an apply online button. That is not the button for applying to Army ROTC.  That button takes you to the Army Career Explorer (ACE) which is focused on enlisted options for the most part.

Step three – keep in touch/start a dialogue

As you go through the process make sure you are letting people know you are interested in their program.  Whether it is a school or an Army ROTC battalion, we want to hear from you, and we will keep track of our conversations.  In my case I contact interested applicants often and track all correspondences.  Clarkson also does the same and I can cross reference their system and mine to see if an applicant is showing interest. If I hear from you often then you will get my help.  If you don’t respond to my emails I’m guessing you plan to attend another school.

You have to make sure you are providing good contact information.  If you provide an email address make sure it’s one you check often.  With the advent of mobile devices it should take days to respond to an email.

I also suggest that scanning and emailing is the best way to respond to requests for forms or documents.  On the application website you can scan and upload documents.  There is no reason why someone would put something in an envelope and mail it or fax a document these days.  Scan and upload when possible.

I also recommend you plan some campus visits once you narrow your list.  If you visit a college ask about meeting with someone from the ROTC program.  In my case, I encourage visitors to schedule their visit through the Admissions office, and ask to meet with Army ROTC.  Admissions does the rest.

Step four – Don’t give up

If you go through the high school process and don’t get an offer you can still attend college, enroll in Army ROTC class, and become an Army Officer.  You may have the opportunity to earn a campus based scholarship or take advantage of another program like the Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP).  Not every Cadet is on scholarship.



2013 Summer Camps

If you have Cadets attending Summer training here are some good resources to keep tabs on what they are up to.

Cadets going to LDAC

The official LDAC Blog

Photos of LDAC

LDAC on Facebook 

LDAC on Twitter 

They are even livestreaming LDAC here

Here’s the mailing address if you want to send you Cadet a letter or care package

Cadet Lastname, Firstname
Warrior Forge xPLT, xCo, xRegt
PO Box 339543, JBLM, WA 98433

Here is some information if you want to see your Cadet graduate from Warrior Forge

Cadets at LTC

Here is the LTC blog

LTC on Twitter

LTC on Facebook

Here’s a link to the information you need if you have a Cadet at Fort Knox.

They also will be live streaming some of the events.

We’ll all be watching how the Cadets are doing at camp this Summer.  Best of luck to all the GKB Cadets!!

GKB commissioning 2013

We held our commissioning ceremony at Clarkson University on 11 May this year.  We commissioned 10 Cadets, and we had commissioned 2LT Nicky Lea in December which made a total of 11 Clarkson Lieutenants to date for the year group.

Thanks to our guest speaker Major General Robert Stall

Clarkson commissioning 2013

Here are the new Lieutenants

Lieutenant Dylan Bach 

Lieutenant Bach is commissioned into the Transportation Corps.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering.  He will attend the Transportation Officer basic course at Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Drum, New York.

Lieutenant Gregory Christian

Lieutenant Christian is commissioned into the Military Police Corps.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in global supply chain management and a minor in project management.  He will work at this summer at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis,  Washington prior to attending the Military Police Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be in Sembach Germany.

Lieutenant Matthew Coryea

Lieutenant Coryea is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with the 366th Combat Engineer Battalion.

Lieutenant Ian Lamos

Lieutenant Lamos is commissioned into the Military Intelligence branch.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in mechanical engineering and mathematics.  He will attend the Military Intelligence  Officer basic course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Drum, New York with the Tenth Mountain Division.

Lieutenant Patrick McPartland

Lieutenant McPartland is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  He will serve in the Army Reserves with the 305th Engineer Detachment at Fort Wadsworth, New York.

Lieutenant Nick Olszewski

Lieutenant Olszewski is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive a bachelor of science degree in engineering and management.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Riley, Kansas with the First Infantry Division.

Lieutenant Olszewski will also receive a certificate recognizing him as a Distinguished Military Graduate signifying his high standing in the class and national order of merit list.

Lieutenant Steve Strait

Lieutenant Strait is commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in civil engineering.  He will attend the Engineer officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 20th Engineer Brigade.

Lieutenant Joshua Addington

Lieutenant Addington is commissioned into the Ordinance Corps.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in history.  He will attend the Ordinance  Officer basic course at Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with the  1107th Mobile Support out of Fort Eustis, Virginia.

Lieutenant Andrew Christian

Lieutenant Christian is commissioned into the Military Police Corps.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in psychology.  He will attend the Military Police officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with the 382nd Military Police Battalion.

Lieutenant Lampert

Lieutenant Lampert is commissioned into the Military Intelligence branch.  He will receive bachelor of science degrees in aeronautical and mechanical engineering.  He will attend the Military Intelligence officer basic course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.  His first duty assignment will be in the Army Reserves with A Company, 325th Military Intelligence Battalion out of Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

Quick look at the first board

Just some quick initial analysis regarding the first scholarship board.  Keep in mind that I am out here on the frontiers of freedom and don’t have all the data.  My analysis is based on what I can glean from the Cadet Command Information Management System (CCIMS).

alt offer – 11

Offer – 202

eligible -7

interviewee – 5748

ineligible – 948

Here is what I count.

The first thing I’m assuming is that there are 213 applicants that will soon receive an offer letter.  That is not a lot.

I don’t know what constitutes eligible vs. interviewee, but my assumption is that this pool of 5755 applicants are somewhere between completing the online application and having all their information in so that their file is board ready.  You will be in an interviewee status until you are offered a scholarship, so make sure you check to see that your interview is posted and then don’t sweat the fact that your status still lists you as eligible for the interview.  I know that doesn’t sound logical, but some of this process won’t make a lot of sense.

My final assumption is that the 948 ineligibles have something in their app that precludes them from competing.  Things such as low SAT, low high school GPA, or age may disqualify them.

So what does all this mean?  Very little in my opinion.  You can’t control how many scholarships are given.  You can’t control how you compare against other applicants who are competing for the same allocations.  The only thing you can control is how quickly you apply, how quickly you complete your file, and the quality of your application and interview performance.  I would remind you that to become an Army Officer you will make some sacrifices, in time, money, and effort.  How bad do you want it?

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.

The Oath

I was recently contacted by Mark Rosenthal ‘78. Along with being a product of Clarkson and the Golden Knight Battalion he also writes a blog, and he shared with me something he wrote regarding the Oath of Office. Springtime is when we usually commission our graduates. Part of that commissioning ceremony involves the Cadets taking their oath of office. Mark had some thoughts about the oath and he shared them with me, and I in turn share them with you.

Spring 2011 commissioning class taking their Oath of Office

The Oath of Office

When I was on active duty, we spent a lot of time studying the armed forces and political systems of the Soviet Union. Actually it was impossible to study those two topics separately.
While we liked to imagine that the USSR was totalitarian rule by a single individual, it was actually far more complicated. If the Chairman of the Communist Party lost the faith of the Politburo, it was possible for them to replace him. This actually happened in 1964 when Nikita Khrushchev was perceived as liberalizing too quickly. There was a bloodless coup, he was replaced, and we soon entered the Brezhnev era that epitomized the final stages of the Cold War.

There were also factions within the party structure.

There was the Communist Party itself. There was the KGB – the security apparatus – and there was the military.

The checks and balances were based on mutual suspicion. The Party and the Military were wary of the KGB’s power; and the KGB was on the lookout for disloyalty to the Party – as they perceived it.

Within the military structure, there were KGB political officers at every level of command. They were there to ensure the loyalty of the commanders, ensure the political soundness of orders and directives, and could countermand orders they disagreed with.

We see this pattern of “political control” consistently applied whenever a state has reason to distrust the power of its armed forces.

The USA, of course, has no such structure. We have never had a need for it. I had always taken it for granted that such political controls were the domain of states that did not share our values and freedoms.

When I was serving, the 82nd Airborne had a battalion of light tanks (M551A1 Sheridans). Part of my time at Ft Bragg was as XO of Charlie Company in that battalion.

In 1981 Charlie Company had a great opportunity. We engaged in an exchange with the Blues and Royals in the British Army. You may recall more recently that Prince Harry served in that regiment in Iraq. They trace their history back to the year 1640 or so and are, in their own words, “the second stuffiest regiment in the British Army.”

During my initial visit to set up logistics, etc. I was meeting their officers. One of them introduced himself as the “Education Officer.” He was not part of the Regiment, but rather, was in the “Education Corps” and stationed on the post with the regiment.

From the title, I naturally assumed his role was to give the soldiers opportunities to further their education while they served.

Boy was I wrong. In his words “our job is to ensure that the soldiers maintain the correct view.” Further, he filed reports on individual officers regarding what he regarded as their politics. In other words, he was a political officer of sorts, there to watch over the regiment and make sure they were loyal to the “values of a liberal democracy” and he specifically cited one by name who “bears watching.” Wow.

The officers’ oath was to the sovereign – the Queen, and just as we in the USA take our oath seriously (or should), so did they. The “Education Corps” was there to ensure that Her Majesty’s Government, as represented by the elected Ministers of Parliament, maintained control of the military in the event that officers somehow disagreed with governmental policies.
I found that quite interesting.

When in Germany, I served in 1st Battalion 32nd Armor, in the 3st Brigade of the 3rd Armored Division. We had a partnership battalion in the German Bundeswehr, the 41st Panzer Battalion.

While working with them, I found they had a civilian assigned to the unit. His nominal job was to help them maintain their budgets, etc. Though he worked with the military command, he was not part of it. His reporting was through a civilian chain up through the Ministry of Defense. This parallel chain ran all the way through their command structure. Their job was control – to make sure that money was being spent on the right things, and not being spent on the wrong things. His approval was needed for the battalion to do pretty much anything that didn’t involve staying in the barracks. He controlled fuel, ammunition, food, repair parts, logistics.

As I became more conscious of these structures in other countries, I came to realize that our military has a pretty much unique relationship with our civilian government – one of trust. They trust us. They don’t feel the need to have a parallel structure to watch what we say, what we do.

When you are commissioned, you will take an oath. Typically you only take this oath once.

On the other hand, during your time in service, you will hear the oath taken by Enlisted personnel many times, as they take it each time they reenlist.

It is easy to forget the differences between the two. The key difference is what is not in the oath of commissioning.

Here is the Enlisted oath:
“I, XXXXXXXXXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.”
And this is the one you will take:
I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”
As a commissioned officer, your oath carries a lot more responsibility. You are not taking an oath to obey orders, or even follow regulations. Your oath is to support and defend the nation’s rule of law. Is this a license of disobey lawful orders or ignore regulations? Of course not. That is not even implied here. The effectiveness of our Armed Forces requires that discipline to carry out the intent of this oath. But that discipline not imposed upon you. It is Intended to come from within you.

In the United States, we rely on our Commissioned Officers to be the ones who ensure the military remains loyal to the nation’s rule of law rather than an individual who might – at some point in the future – try to usurp that power. We don’t need a parallel command structure, because we trust our officers to do the right thing and we give them the flexibility to do so. We don’t constrain them from doing the right thing with their oath.

You have a very unique position. Almost without exception, no other nation places as much trust in the personal integrity of its armed forces. Take your oath seriously.

Mark Rosenthal ‘78

Clarkson Rangers circa 1976

Thanks Mark. I could relate to your thoughts because we served at the same time in some of the same places. I too remember when the USSR was the “enemy”. I also remind the Cadets often about the importance of Army Values, the Warrior Ethos/Soldiers Creed, and the Oaths we take. Good luck to this years Commissioning class and all the Cadets who will take this oath in the future.