Six Elon seniors commissioned into the U.S. military in virtual ceremonies

Three Air Force cadets and three Army cadets completed Elon’s ROTC program and will enter military service.

Like most formal ceremonies this spring, the commissioning ceremonies for the six Elon ROTC graduating seniors had to shift to an online platform. But even at a distance, each graduate was fully supported by friends and family as they transitioned from a student in training to a commissioned second lieutenant in their respective branches. In locations across the country, the students stood in front of webcams as their second lieutenant bars were pinned to their uniforms and they gave their first salutes.

The commissioning ceremonies are the culmination of four years of training and mark the beginning of military service for each student. Elon’s ROTC program is part of a cooperative agreement with N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro, and the students travel from Elon to Greensboro to participate. Angela Kammen, part of the Army ROTC program, said that balancing her work on multiple campuses helped her learn how to successfully coordinate everything she undertakes. “It really taught me time management. It showed me that I can do everything, and I learned so much about myself as a person, leader and student,” Kammen said.

Graduating seniors Kyle Walsh (from left), Angela Kammen and Kyle Delaney were commissioned into the U.S. Army on Thursday, May 21, after completing Elon’s ROTC program.

The Army commissioning ceremony took place via Facebook Live, with the three cadets live in different locations. The guest speaker, Major General John S. Kem, offered the students congratulations and words of advice, noting the importance of standing up for others and for the country. “Your moral courage is one of the most important things,” Kem said. “You have the ability to do the right thing, all the time, even when there might be an easier path that isn’t quite right. You have to choose the right way.”

View the virtual Army ROTC ceremony here.

Graduating seniors Hannah Schulz (from left), Matthew Oertel and Sarah Boggins were commissioned into the U.S. Air Force on Thursday, May 21, after completing Elon’s ROTC program.

The Air Force commissioning ceremonies were held in virtual meetings, with a separate ceremony for each cadet. Matthew Oertel’s family and friends pressed their faces into their cameras from home, smiling broadly and waving American flags as they waited for his 11:15 ceremony to begin. Lt. Col. Gary Alexander with N.C. A & T gave the opening remarks: “We’re excited to share in this great day with Matthew. Although the coronavirus has put a damper on this occasion, it doesn’t take away any of the significance. To Matthew’s family and friends, you have a lot to be proud of. You helped produce this young gentleman.”

The six commissioned seniors have received their first official assignments:

U.S. Air Force

2nd Lt. Sarah Boggins is from Summerfield, North Carolina, and achieved the rank of cadet colonel. Boggins’ positions include squadron commander, field training preparation commander, field training cadet training assistant, operations group commander and wing commander. Boggins will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. She will serve as a gold bar recruiter at the University of Washington in Seattle, recruiting for Air Force ROTC.

2nd Lt. Matthew Oertel is from Raleigh, North Carolina, and achieved the rank of cadet lieutenant colonel. His positions include physical fitness officer, squadron commander, detachment outreach group commander and operations group commander. Oertel will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and will begin pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas.

2nd Lt. Hannah Schulz is from Plainfield, Illinois, and achieved the rank of cadet major. Her positions include flight commander, academic officer and director of staff. Schulz is graduating with bachelor’s degrees in history and in international and global studies. Schulz will serve as a contracting officer at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

U.S. Army

2nd Lt. Kyle Delaney achieved the rank of cadet major and served as the planning and operations officer for the Battalion S3. Ranking in the top 20 percent of Army ROTC graduations nationwide, he is a distinguished military graduate and will be graduating from Elon summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Delaney will serve as an active duty armor officer in the United States Army.

2nd Lt. Angela Kammen achieved the rank of cadet captain and served as the Battalion S4 logistics officer. She is a distinguished military graduate, ranking in the top 20 percent of Army ROTC students in the U.S, and she is graduating from Elon with a bachelor’s degree in public health studies. She will commission as a second lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps.

2nd Lt. Kyle Walsh achieved the rank of cadet lieutenant colonel and served as the cadet battalion commander in fall of 2019, transitioning to a staff support role in spring of 2020. He will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in strategic communications and will commission as a second lieutenant active duty Army engineer.