The department of military science at University of Wisconsin-Stout will hold its fall commissioning ceremony for three Army ROTC cadets at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, in the Dakota Ballroom, University Center at UW-Eau Claire.
UW-Stout, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls comprise the Northwoods Battalion in northern Wisconsin. ROTC stands for Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
Army ROTC is a program of study that combines electives in military science with practical leadership training to prepare men and women to become Army officers. Upon successful completion of the Army ROTC program and graduation from college, cadets receive a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, the Army Reserve or the Army National Guard.
The three cadets to be commissioned, their hometowns, universities and majors are:
- Blake Nikolai, of Madison, UW-Eau Claire, kinesiology
- Ka Vue, of Eau Claire, UW-Eau Claire, communications
- Kathryn Franks, of Independence, UW-Eau Claire, kinesiology
The newly commissioned officers’ duties will be: Nikolai, Wisconsin Army National Guard, Field Artillery; Vue, Wisconsin Army National Guard, Adjutant General; Franks, active duty Army, Engineer Corps.
The students also graduate from their college with academic degrees.
The guest speaker will be Col. Darren L. Werner, U.S Army Sustainment Command chief of staff. Werner leads a global organization responsible for sustaining Army and Joint Forces in the U.S. and abroad in support of combatant commanders.
Commissioning recognizes a cadet’s transition from student to leader and is the last step taken before beginning a career as a U.S. Army officer. Ceremonies include a commitment to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. A cadet is granted authority to carry out the duties as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. The authority to grant a commission rests with Congress.
“These newly commissioned officers have spent the past four years developing their leadership skills. They have been challenged as individuals, followers and as leaders through practical experience leading the cadet platoons, companies and the battalion,” said Lt. Col. Jesse Johnson, UW-Stout professor of military science and department chair. “They understand what it takes to train, motivate and inspire their soldiers and noncommissioned officers — and will apply these skills as they lead platoons in operations around the world.”
During the ceremony, each cadet takes the Oath of Office, similar to the president of the United States at inauguration. The cadet chooses an officer or retired officer to administer the oath. Family members, or others close to the individual being commissioned, pin the cadet with gold bars. The ceremony culminates with the newly commissioned officer being saluted by a noncommissioned officer of his or her choice.
“Newly commissioned second lieutenants have responsibilities that far exceed those of most new college graduates,” Johnson said. “They will arrive at their units and immediately take charge of a platoon, where they will make decisions every day that affect the health, welfare and combat readiness of their soldiers.”
Each year the battalion trains approximately 200 cadets across all academic levels and produces an average of 22 lieutenants.
Army ROTC at UW-Stevens Point was established in 1968 and the “Northwoods” Battalion enrolled 250 freshmen for its first semester that same year. This was 26 percent of the UW-Stevens Point incoming freshmen class, well over the national average of 10 percent.
Women were first allowed to enter ROTC in 1974; today, females account for 20 percent of the program.
In 2005 the ranks of the Northwoods Battalion grew with the establishment of an ROTC partnership program at UW-Stout. The battalion added a partnership with UW-River Falls in 2007, and UW-Eau Claire was established as an official affiliate school in 2009.
Top: Cadets stand at attention during a 2015 Army ROTC Northwoods Battalion commissioning ceremony at UW-Stout.
Bottom: Lt. Col. Jesse Johnson