ROTC seniors to be commissioned into the military

Mackensie Moore

After graduation this weekend, many students will begin their job search or will start their careers. But after ROTC students graduate, they must first be commissioned into the military to begin their careers.

On Saturday, each ROTC program will hold their own Commissioning Ceremony to honor the seniors of each program. In each ceremony, the graduating seniors will take their oath of office and have their new rank pinned on by a loved one, symbolizing the beginning of their military careers.

In the Air Force ROTC program, nine cadets will be graduating, with their commissioning ceremony beginning at 5 p.m. May 10 in the Campanile Room of the Memorial Union. This ceremony will be open to the public.

Cadets will be wearing their service dress uniforms at the ceremony and will have guest speaker, Gen. Doherty, Iowa State alum and a former Air Force ROTC cadet, give remarks.

After Doherty speaks, the nine seniors will be introduced, be read and recite their oath to the United States Air Force and then will become a part of the Active-Duty Air Force.

One of those seniors will be Simon Peña, senior in political science, who will be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

At the ceremony, Peña will have his father, a retired Air Force Major, read the oath to him. Then his mother and father will both pin his new rank on his shoulders.

“Most people have their family members or a service-member that they’re close with pin their ranks on because it’s received as a sign of respect,” said Peña.

Peña said he is excited for his career in the Air Force and has chosen to work in the personnel field, with the goal of becoming a Chaplain one day.

“[The ROTC program] has prepared me to think critically in any situation, and that’s going to help me out tremendously in my military career,” Peña said.

The Army’s commissioning ceremony, which was held May 10, will have approximately 20 ISU seniors being commissioned. The Army’s ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. and will take place in the Student Alumni Building. The ceremony is also open to the public.

“After four or five years of hard work, commissioning is the final thing you do as an ROTC cadet,” said Isabella Hamby, senior in psychology.

Army ROTC commissioning seniors can be commissioned into the Army or the National Guard.

All Army ROTC seniors’ oaths, will be different depending on if they are choosing the Army or National Guard.

A difference between the Air Force and Army ceremony is the addition of the Silver Dollar Salute.

The Silver Dollar Salute, often referred to as the First Salute, is when the newly commissioned soldier has a retired soldier or an individual who is currently enlisted, issue their first salute to them as a member of the military.

“It’s a really big symbol of respect — and it’s a two-way respect — because the enlisted soldier has been in the Army a lot longer than you, whereas you’ll have only been in for two minutes. But they’re still showing you respect by giving you your first salute as a member of the military,” Hamby said.

The silver dollar coin that is given in exchange for the salute, which the ceremony is named after, is actually worth around $25 and made of pure silver.

“The silver dollar is a gift given to the enlisted officer who is showing you that respect by giving you your first salute,” Hamby said.

Hamby chose her cousin Joel Turner, a member of the Iowa National Guard, to issue her the first salute. She said that the usual choice is an enlisted cadet in the ROTC program, but because of her close bond with her cousin, he was the obvious choice.

Matthew Ripperger, senior in interdisciplinary studies, will also be graduating from the Army ROTC program.

“It’s one thing to be enlisted, but as an officer, I feel like I’ll make a bigger impact on other’s lives and on my own life,” said Ripperger.

Ripperger who was a member of the National Guard throughout college, will be leaving the National Guard to go into Active-Duty.

Because of his experiences in the National Guard, Ripperger has chosen his friend and fellow National Guard unit member, Sgt. First Class James Roller to issue his first salute.

“I have a lot of respect for him. He’s a great individual and he’s helped me out a lot in my career, so it was an easy pick,” Ripperger said.

Ripperger will also have his family at the ceremony to pin his new active-duty Army rank on his shoulders. He chose his family because he credits them with helping him get where he is today.

“The ceremony will recognize myself and my family and friends. I’ll feel the recognition and responsibility when I read my oath. But it will also recognize my family when they pin my ranks on,” Ripperger said.

After graduating and commissioning, Ripperger will attend more training and then will become a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army as an engineering officer.

The Naval ROTC program will hold its commissioning ceremony on Saturday as well. Open to the public, the NROTC ceremony will be held in the Pioneer Room of the Memorial Union, beginning at 5 p.m.

The guest speaker at the NROTC ceremony will be Commander Harry F. Statia, the recently retired executive officer of the NROTC program.

For the NROTC program, five seniors will be commissioned, consisting of both marines and navy midshipmen.

Of those five is midshipmen James Kokjohn, senior in political science, who said the ceremony will begin with the midshipmen taking their oaths.

While the NROTC ceremony will also consist of the Silver Dollar Salute, this will not take place until after an allotted social time.

Kokjohn chose Staff Sergeant Harrison, of the NROTC program, to be his first salute.

“Harrison has been a mentor to me for the last year, even before he came to Iowa State.” Kokjohn said. “He’s given me guidance and mentorship in everything that I’ve done.”

Kokjohn will also be commissioning into Active-Duty, where he will become a Second Lieutenant in the Marines.