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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Officers Commissioned in Joint Ceremony at Old Dominion

By Brendan O'Hallarn

Brig. Gen. Brian P. Cummings, the guest speaker at the joint ROTC spring commissioning ceremony at Old Dominion University, paused early in his remarks and asked attendees who serve, had served or will serve in the military to stand.

A sizable percentage of the audience, along with 41 soon-to-be officers commissioned by the Old Dominion University Army ROTC and Naval ROTC Hampton Roads, stood to thunderous applause.

"It's an honor to come here and spend time with people who feel like family," said Cummings, a 1986 Old Dominion biology graduate who is Program Executive Officer Soldier for the U.S. Army.

Cummings related a lively anecdote about being dispatched by his wife, with a grill, to a cookout in the neighborhood. After two hours of friendly conversation, frequently about shared military experiences, Cummings learned that he had gone to the wrong address. His cookout companions were complete strangers.

Still, it was a great day.

Cummings cautioned new Army, Navy and Marine Corps officers that occasionally they, too, would have to go with something unexpected. "Sometimes, you take a wrong turn and it's the best turn you will ever take," he said.

A total of 41 new officers, hailing from 12 states, as well as Ukraine, Cuba and the Philippines, were commissioned as Army and Marine Corps 2nd lieutenants and Navy ensigns, receiving officer pins from family and friends and delivering their first salutes as officers.

Now commissioned, they will receive their command posts and will be deployed around the world, helping to protect our nation's freedom.

Speakers from the four participating universities (Naval ROTC Hampton Roads includes Hampton University, Norfolk State University and Regent University, along with Old Dominion) welcomed commissioning candidates and their families.

They noted the sacrifice the students made, receiving full military training along with completing an undergraduate degree.

Old Dominion Chief Operating Officer David F. Harnage welcomed attendees to the University on behalf of President John R. Broderick. Harnage said that though several graduation-related events will be held this weekend, "there is something pretty special about this Army, Navy, Marine Corps joint ceremony."

He told officers: "You are now part of a unique group that has chosen to wear the cloth of our nation, and defend our freedoms and way of life."

Army ROTC, currently under the command of Maj. William Bowers, was established at Old Dominion in September 1969 as part of the Darden School of Education. Since its inception, the program has grown in size and scope, with the establishment in the 1974-75 school year of a military science curriculum that is fully recognized by the University for academic credit. That milestone was followed in 2003 by the Faculty Senate's approval of an academic minor in military leadership studies.

Naval ROTC Hampton Roads, now led by Capt. Lennie E. Reed, was commissioned in July 1982 and developed an innovative concept known as the NROTC Consortium. NROTC Hampton Roads became the first unit to offer complete programs at three institutions -- Hampton University, Norfolk State University and Old Dominion. Since its establishment, the program has grown to include Regent University and Tidewater Community College.

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