TEMPE, AZ – Arizona State University (ASU) and the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) had the distinct honor of commissioning six new ensigns into the United States Navy on May 10. The commissioning was the culmination of the program’s third year of operation at ASU. Over the previous academic year three Marines were also commissioned as second lieutenants, bringing the total to nine new officers entering active duty service through the program. As the unit continues to mature, those numbers will rise even further. Projected commissionees for the coming year are twenty-four.
The resent commissionees, Ensigns Andrew Chinn, Katlin Forster, David Gayle, Randy Pond, Steven Scoville and Trent Warner, will serve in a variety of communities including Naval Aviation (Pilot and Naval Flight Officer), Surface Warfare and Surface Warfare Nuclear.
The ASU Commanding Officer (CO) of ASU NROTC, CAPT David Price, addressed the future officers, distinguished guests, faculty, staff, friends and family: “I have been nothing but impressed with the amazing dedication, effort and quality it takes to earn a commission in ROTC from ASU.”
His speech offered many words of advice to the new commissionees and concluded with a challenge. He pledged that a “crisp bill with a picture of Andrew Jackson on it” would fall into the hands of any of the fresh Ensigns who could “make it through the evening without either looking down at [their] shoulder boards or in the mirror.” At the end of the evening, the CO maintained possession of that twenty. Ensign Steven Scoville commented, “I was out of the running within minutes.”
Ensign Trent Warner said about the commissioning that "After all the college lectures and PT sessions, it didn't seem like it would ever happen. When it finally did happen, when my family came up and clipped on those shoulder boards and my grandfather placed my new cap on, it felt like a completely ethereal experience!"
Mrs. Sandra Douglas, mother of Ensign Andrew Chinn, reminisced about her son’s passion for military service at the early age of 9, recalling photos of him ironing his military uniforms as a young member of the Sea Cadets. She commented with pride that “Ever since he was little, he would set his sights on a goal- perhaps he might have a diversion along the path but when he saw his opportunity, he would go after it.” And that is exactly what all six of the new officers have done.
Yet another exciting day for the new Ensigns came two days prior, on May 8, when, alongside eighteen Army ROTC cadets and twenty Air Force ROTC cadets, they were privileged to accept the Oath of Office from the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff, Army General Martin E. Dempsey.
With more than 37 years of service and serving as the 18th Chairman Joint Chief of Staff (CJCS), General Dempsey is the highest-ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces. He serves as the principal military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council.
In his address, Gen Dempsey reminded the new officers that service to their country is “an uncommon lifestyle that requires a greater level of courage.” He stressed that this lifestyle of competence and character demands a “professional set of values that apply both on and off duty.” The CJCS expressed what the Oath of Office means in that, unique from other countries, the newly commissioned officers pledge allegiance not to a person but rather to a set of ideas, the constitution.
Taking the Oath and pledging this allegiance, Ensign Randy Pond, who reported to flight school in Pensacola, Florida at the end of May, commented, “The ceremony was a great start to our future careers in the United States Navy. To have the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff administer our Oath of Office was an enormous honor.”
Ensign Andrew Chinn said he will never forget the event. “Hearing the CJCS’s words of wisdom and his expectations of us was impacting. There is great privilege to our futures leading young men and women.”
CDR Erich Schmidt, who has been the unit’s Executive Officer (XO) since the start of the ASU NROTC program, sent his message to the new ensigns. “We are extremely proud of each of you. Congratulations and we know you will make impressive accomplishments in the fleet.”