VMI ROTC Commissions More Than 100 Cadets
First Lt. Mark Turner ’09 looks on as newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Daniel Clynes receives his bars at the Marine Corps pin-on ceremony. – VMI Photo by Sarah Brown.
LEXINGTON, Va., May 15, 2012 – More than 100 VMI cadets commissioned into the armed services of the United States in a ceremony May 15, upholding a central tradition of Virginia Military Institute and reinforcing bonds between former and current members of the Corps.
“This commissioning ceremony marks the transition of young men and women from the life of a cadet and student to that of an officer in the armed forces of the United States of America,” said Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III ’62, VMI superintendent, during the ceremony. “It is the fulfillment of one of the central and historic purposes of Virginia Military Institute: the preparation of citizen-soldiers.”
Among those commissioned were 56 Army, 20 Marine Corps, and 11 Air Force second lieutenants and 15 Navy ensigns.
That transition made for a proud day for the new officers, who were joined by friends and family who honored their accomplishment.
First Lt. Mark Turner ’09 returned to VMI to see his former rat, 2nd Lt. Daniel Clynes, through the Marine Corps pinning ceremony. Turner, who commissioned in the Marine Corps following his graduation, has served in Afghanistan and will soon deploy to Djibouti.
Clynes spoke of the importance of having a mentor who has been with him since his 4th Class year and has been able to share his experiences serving in the Marine Corps.
“It meant a lot to me,” said Clynes. “It’s great to see that this relationship lasts past the time while you’re at school together, and I hope that relationship continues into the future.”
For Ensign Jennifer Sing, commissioning in the Navy as a pilot is the fulfillment of a life-long dream.
“I’ve dreamed of being a pilot ever since I was in elementary school. It wasn’t until about the eighth grade that I really decided that I wanted to be a part of the military, more specifically the Navy,” said Sing. “As far as the flight training goes, I expect it to be challenging, but manageable. I am a little nervous, but extremely excited to get started. “
Second Lt. Bryan Reno, who will be serving as an ordnance officer in the U.S. Army, shared his feeling of accomplishment.
“When you’re going through it, you don’t understand what it’s all for, but now that I’ve come through it all, it comes together. VMI has prepared me mentally, physically, and emotionally,” said Reno. “After these four hard years, it’s finally paid off.”
Second Lt. Daniel Knick, who will be serving as an air liaison officer with the U.S. Air Force, grew up in Lexington and found role models at VMI.
“While I was growing up, I would see VMI cadets around town, and they were cool guys that I looked up to,” said Knick. “Seeing them out being themselves made me want to be like them.”
Knick found a source of strength in his faith. He applied that strength throughout his cadetship at VMI.
“My faith carried me through. There’s no way I would be here today without that,” said Knick. “It has changed me from a reckless, selfish kid to a person who strives to put others first.”
Commissioning cadets, along with the entire Corps, members of the faculty, and visitors to post, were addressed by leaders from the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.
Army commissioning officer Maj. General Perry L. Wiggins, commanding general of 1st Army Division West at Fort Hood, whose son, 2nd Lt. Dallas Wiggins, commissioned into the U.S. Army during the ceremony, offered words of encouragement to the newly commissioned officers.
“The sweat, blood, and tears of those old soldiers who have gone before us have forged a legacy of reliability and selflessness that you would do well to uphold,” said Wiggins.
“As you pass through the archways of this historic institution, remember one thing, you are part of a legacy, a tradition that has produced one five-star general, eight four-star generals, 246 other general officers, seven Medal of Honor recipients, and 80 recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross.”
Navy commissioning officer Vice Adm. Joseph Kernan, military deputy commander, U.S. Southern Command, shared a personal connection with the Institute.
“The first personal loss I experienced in my career was a VMI graduate who served under my command in SEAL Team 2. He was a gifted young officer with a bright future, Lieutenant Mark Wilson, VMI class of ’88. He was a selfless leader and a sterling example of this institution,” said Kernan. “It is for him, and for you, that I agreed to . . . forego my aversion to the microphone.”
Following the remarks of Wiggins, Kernan, Air Force commissioning officer Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, and Marine Corps commissioning officer Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, cadets from each service swore the commissioning oath, to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”