In unison, the 16 young men and women recited the Cadet Creed. A standing-room- only crowd filled the sanctuary of a former church on the St. Louis University campus May 10 for the military ceremony.
“I am an Army cadet …”
The recent college graduates, who had spent up to four years as cadets, were about to become second lieutenants in the U.S. Army during a traditional commissioning ceremony. They had successfully completed coursework and training through the 94th Gateway Battalion Army Reserve Officer Training Corps, which serves students at nine universities in the St. Louis area.
“… Honor is my touchstone …”
One by one, the cadets stepped forward to be commissioned for duty, among them Daniel Seibert and Caleb Sexton from the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
Seibert’s parents, Dan and Lydia Seibert pinned second lieutenant bars on each of their son’s shoulders. He hugged them then walked over to Master Sgt. Randall Dawson for the traditional “first salute.” The new officer receives his first salute from a noncommissioned officer, or NCO, of his choosing. Seibert handed Dawson a silver dollar, a sign of respect for the NCO and a personal thank you for the training and mentoring he provided.
“Commissioning was an incredibly important accomplishment in my life,” Seibert said. “All the hours I put into ROTC, waking up early and doing physical training and spending weekends in training were quite challenging. I feel very fortunate and satisfied to have finished within four years.”
Sexton repeated the same two steps in the commissioning. His wife, Carrie Sexton and father, Daniel Sexton pinned the bars on his shoulders. Sexton chose Staff Sgt. Jermaine Dillard for the first salute. He handed him the silver dollar and the two men hugged, as did all the other new second lieutenants and their sergeants.
Sexton’s sense of pride and accomplishment were evident after the ceremony.
“I would say that the ceremony was one of the most important events of my life,” he said. “All of the work I put into school paid off at that ceremony. It was one of my proudest days when the two most important people of my life, my wife and father, pinned on those bars. With those bars comes new responsibilities.”
“… I will do my duty.”
The purpose of Army ROTC is to develop selected college-educated men and women for positions of responsibility as officers in the active Army, Army Reserve and National Guard. Lt. Col. James Craig teaches military science at the universities and oversees the Gateway Battalion. He looked as proud of the new officers as their families.
Seibert earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from UMSL May 12. The Army ROTC provides scholarships and stipends for college. In return for those benefits, the cadet must agree to complete eight years of duty with the Army.
Seibert is committed to seven years of active duty and one year of reserve duty. This summer he’ll be in the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Ft. Lewis, Wash. In September he leaves for Ft. Lee, Va., for four months of ordnance training and will go to Ft. Carson, Col. to begin his active duty next March.
Sexton earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from UMSL and will serve in the National Guard for eight years. He heads to Georgia July 23 for the Basic Officer Leadership Course. He hopes to work in information technology for the Surface Deployment Distribution Command, the command that moves and organizes equipment throughout the U.S.
Army officer training in St. Louis started in 1891 and was formalized in 1918 with voluntary enrollment in military training at Washington University.
ROTC classes were first offered at UMSL in 1977. Gateway Battalion opened an extension center at UMSL in 1980 and began offering military science courses in 2004. Over the past 94 years nearly 2,000 officers have been commissioned through the Gateway Battalion.
In addition to Seibert and Sexton, ROTC cadets from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., Maryville University in Town and Country, Mo., St. Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis were also commissioned at the May 10 ceremony.