For the last seven years, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps has been a part of cadet Michael Dotson’s life. He participated in it while at Northside High School and continued into the ROTC program at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.
On Jan. 4, Dotson’s time with the ROTC program came to an end when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army during a ceremony held at Faith United Methodist Church.
The history major and Fort Smith native will enter the Army’s field artillery branch. Maj. Jason Hogue administered the Oath of office, and retired Lt. Col. Earl Massey, a former teacher of Dotson’s, as well as his parents Richard and Lorie Dotson, pinned on his bars. First Sgt. Seane Fry rendered the first salute.
Though Dotson is excited and honored to receive his commission, he said he has “no illusions” about the challenges that will accompany his promotion to second lieutenant.
“I have tried very hard to prepare myself both mentally and physically for the tasks ahead and have listened to the input from many former servicemen and women on how I can be a good officer,” Dotson said. “ROTC was, without a doubt, the best thing that ever happened to me. It allowed me to become the person I am today. There were many lessons I had to learn and many obstacles I had to overcome. But here I am today, preparing to take on a very large commitment that so few ever have the honor of sharing.”
Dr. Charles Armour, a pastor for Faith United Methodist Church in Fort Smith, served as the guest speaker at the ceremony. Prior to his 25 years at Faith United Methodist, Armour served as chaplain for the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, in addition to teaching at several colleges. Pastor Craig Clark gave the invocation prior to the ceremony.
ROTC is a program through the U.S. Army that allows university students to take elective leadership classes in the hopes of transitioning to officer positions with the armed forces following graduation. The commissioning ceremony signifies such a transition. The ROTC program began at UAFS in 2008.