After more than 600 University of Arkansas - Fort Smith students were honored for their academic achievements at the commencement ceremony Dec. 14, two newly commissioned second lieutenants returned to the platform to recite their military oaths of office in a ceremony acknowledging their commitment to their country as well as their education.
Alexander Kieran Seaborn Bond of Alexandria, Louisiana, and Tyler Robbins of Alma were commissioned Thursday, Dec. 12, in the Latture Conference Center on the UAFS campus. The commissioning and celebration that followed represented a culmination of the Reserve Officers’ Training Program (ROTC) at UAFS.
Bond, a psychology and military science graduate, was commissioned into the Military Intelligence Branch while Robbins, a nursing graduate, was commissioned into the Medical Services Corps, both in the Arkansas Army National Guard.
During the Dec. 12 reception, each officer had their first bars pinned to their shoulders to indicate their new insignia of rank as second lieutenants. Pinning Bond’s bars were his parents, Chris and Lydia Thomas. Sergeant First Class Jesse Fryer rendered the first salute to Second Lieutenant Bond.
Captain Deshon Sims congratulated the officers, saying, “Second Lieutenant Bond came to the ROTC program a quiet and shy student, but through his dedication to succeed, he became a vocal leader who the cadets respected and followed without question.”
Pinning Robbins’ bars were his parents, Maria and Ricky Robbins. Sgt. Nolan Smith rendered the first salute to Second Lieutenant Robbins.
Robbins, Sims said, “was a natural leader from the beginning, and through his commitment, he improved his ability to make decisions under pressure and create an environment where cadets could develop as student leaders.”
Following their pinning both officers extended sincere thanks to the crowd and their families for their unending support and to the ROTC leadership for guidance and mentorship. “It means the world to us,” said Bond. “I mean this wholeheartedly: Thank you.”
“I’ve learned so much from you the past few years,” added Robbins, thanking his captains for the fun times in the field and meaningful discussions that followed. “And thank you to my parents. I couldn’t have done this without your support.”
Retired U.S. Navy Commander John Roger Rickard of Alma then presented the newly commissioned officers with certificates of achievement and gold bars from the Military Officers Association of America, General William O. Darby chapter.
“You are two young men who have really gone the extra mile,” said Rickard. “It’s one thing to go to a university and to complete a course of study and even to graduate. But it’s another thing to do that and also complete the ROTC curriculum at the highest level. We recognize how much more you’ve had to do to achieve what you have. And America is in good hands with great men like you coming to serve our country.”
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.
For more information about the ROTC program, contact Captain Sims, assistant professor of military science, at 479-788-7522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.