MADISON, Wis. (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Stephen C. Evans, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) commissioned 35 University of Wisconsin-Madison Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) cadets and midshipmen during a joint service ceremony in the Concerto Room of the Gordon Dining & Event Center on campus, May 13.
The nine Navy and Marine Corps midshipmen, 10 Army and 16 Air Force cadets were commissioned following graduation ceremonies held in the university's Camp Randall Football Stadium.
Each ROTC student was personally recognized by their commanding officers, who along with Evans handed out commissioning certificates at the ceremony. The newly commissioned officers will serve around the globe in a variety of military jobs. For the Navy and Marine Corps midshipmen those occupations will include aviation warfare, surface warfare and submarine warfare for the new Navy ensigns and Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), such as infantry or aviation, for the new Marine Corps 2nd lieutenants.
"This is a fantastic honor for us to have Rear Admiral Evans here to celebrate this joint commissioning," said Navy Capt. Christopher Murdoch, professor of Naval Science and NROTC commanding officer.
"We have 35 future officers from all three services that have taken the oath today and it's just a wonderful and special day. We are just very pleased that the admiral could join us to celebrate with these young men and women as they look to begin their military careers."
Commissioned as Navy ensigns were; Dominique Bowers, 22, from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; Christopher Houben, 21, from Geneva, Illinois; Adam Kapfhamer, 22, from Medford, Wisconsin; William Matthei, 21, from Wheaton, Illinois, and Atlanna Tschida, from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Midshipman 1st Class Patrick Callahan, 21, of St. Louis, will also be commissioned as a Navy ensign upon finishing physicals for flight school. Commissioned as U. S. Marine Corps 2nd lieutenants were Cogan and Cole Kirchenwitz, 22, from Pardeeville, Wisconsin; Michael Sherman, 21, from Plymouth, Minnesota, and Justin Silvis, 22, from McFarland, Wisconsin.
"It's truly an honor for me to be here today to commission these cadets and midshipmen as military officers in their respected branches of service," said Evans. "The University of Wisconsin has a long history and tradition dating back to the first world war of educating and commissioning military officers to serve and protect our nation. This legacy that we continue with today's commissioning is a symbol of America and all that we stand for."
Evans, who was an NROTC midshipman and commissioned at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, in Charleston, S. C., thanked and congratulated the ROTC instructors and staff at Wisconsin for ensuring each cadet and midshipman received the best training to become military officers. He also acknowledged and welcomed to the Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force all the family members in attendance.
"Our nation is strongest when we draw from all of our strengths and we give our best people every opportunity to serve," Evans told the soon-to-be new officers and their families in the audience during his keynote speech. "Remember your families are definitely the strength behind you and the support behind our military. Remember the sacrifices and challenges they have made for you to pursue your degree, participate in ROTC and begin your military career," Evans said.
Following his speech, Rear Adm. Evans led each cadet and midshipman in reciting their Oath of Office and then each member had their ranks affixed to their shoulders by family members.
"This was a celebration and culmination of all the work I've completed here at the university and being commissioned means an opening of a new chapter in my life," said Ensign Tschida, who was commissioned as a surface warfare officer and will serve on the USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) as the First Lieutenant. "I'm excited that I'll be working with Sailors and other officers and have a real leadership position and I'm really excited to learn from them.
Tschida had her father and mother, Daniel and Jennifer, affix her ensign shoulder bars. Tschida's father is the command master chief of Naval Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii.
"It's awesome to see her start this career [in the Navy] that I've enjoyed and think so highly of," Command Master Chief Tschida said. "It's good to see her go into the same field. I know she will do great things and I'm very proud of her."
Master Chief Tschida also gave his daughter her first salute.
Twin brothers and Marine Corps 2nd Lieutenants Kirchenwitz called the ceremony very exciting and an honor to be commissioned together.
"To get the opportunity to graduate and then be commissioned with my twin brother is awesome," Cogan Kirchenwitz said.
Cole Kirchenwitz said, "to have this chance to celebrate our accomplishment in this way, finally, is very rewarding."
Each of the Kirchenwitz brothers had their 2nd lieutenant gold bars pinned on by their father, retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt., Patrick and their mother Lori. Their grandfather, also in attendance at the commissioning, served as a U.S. Navy Radarman 2nd Class on board the USS Canberra (CA 70) in the blockade against the Soviet Union during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
"This is pretty big to see both my sons being commissioned today, said the retired gunny, who also presented the 'first salute' to his sons. "It's legacy stuff, my dad was in, I was in. It continues to build on our families' military legacy. You have to give a little bit to get something back."
After the ceremony family and friends congratulated the newly commissioned officers. Many of the parents present described the moment watching their children being commissioned as one of the proudest in their lives.
The NROTC program is overseen by Evans and his NSTC staff at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. NROTC was established to develop midshipmen mentally, morally and physically. The program also imbues in them the highest ideals of duty, loyalty and Navy core values in order to commission college graduates as Naval officers who possess a basic professional background, are motivated toward careers in the Naval service and have a potential for future development in mind and character so as to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.
NSTC oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy, as well as the Navy's Citizenship Development program. NSTC also includes Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy's only boot camp also at Naval Station Great Lakes, the NROTC program at more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command (OTC) Newport, Rhode Island, and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.
For more information about NROTC, visit https://www.nrotc.navy.mil/.
For more information about NSTC, visit http://www.netc.navy.mil/nstc/, the NSTC Facebook pages https://www.facebook.com/NavalServiceTraining/ or www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes/.
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For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes/.