Two U.S. Air Force cadets and four U.S. Army cadets completed Elon’s ROTC program and will enter military service.
Six Elon seniors took the oath of office and were commissioned into the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army leading up to their graduation from the university as members of the Class of 2022.
Stephen Haley and Theodore Thomas were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Air Force during a joint ceremony held on Friday, May 13, at High Point University. Richard Bright, Patrick Brundidge Jr. Victoria Sardegna and Austin Stillman were celebrated in the presence of family, friends and supporters during the commissioning ceremony held Thursday, May 19, in Holt Chapel on Elon’s South Campus.
Elon offers its ROTC program through a cooperative agreement with N.C. A&T State University and Lt. Col. Linda S. Wynn, a professor of military science at N.C. A&T, noted in her welcoming remarks during the Holt Chapel ceremony that commissioning is a time-honored tradition and rite of passage from ROTC cadet to military officer. “They are not your average college students,” Winn said of the cadets. “They have already exhibited their leadership capabilities. They are intelligent officers. They have persevered.”
The commissioning ceremony is the culmination of four years of training and marks the beginning of military service for each. In taking the oath of office, each swore to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. Each newly commissioned officer becomes an agent of the executive branch of the government, appointed by the president based on the secretary of defense’s signed officer nomination scroll for appointment of each candidate which has also been approved by the U.S. Senate.
Offering words of wisdom to the four cadets as they prepare to begin their military careers was alumnus Lt. Col. John Kirchgessner, who was commissioned into the U.S. Army’s Air Defense Artillery following his graduation from Elon in 2002. With a career that includes deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Kirchgessner currently serves as the Air Defense Branch Chief under the Officer Personnel Management Division at Human Resources Command in Fort Knox, Kentucky.
“I am eager to see your continued growth,” Kirchgessner told the cadets. “What you are about to embark on is incredibly challenging, if you’re doing it right.”
2nd Lt. Richard Bright graduates from Elon with a bachelor’s degree in finance. At the commissioning ceremony, he was pinned by his mother, Cinda Bright, and his brother, Jonathan Bright, and received his first salute from Master Sgt. Brian Boyt. He is will serve in the ordnance branch and will be attending Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Lee, Virginia.
2nd Lt. Patrick Brundidge Jr. graduates from Elon with a bachelor’s degree in business management with a focus on project management and was named a distinguished military graduate. He was pinned by his parents, retired Lt. Col. Patrick and Ursula Brundidge, and received his first salute from retired Sgt. William Rivera. He will serve in the infantry branch and will attend the Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Benning, Georgia.
2nd Lt. Victoria Sardegna graduates from Elon with a bachelor’s degree in international and global studies. She was pinned by her parents, Rob and Maria Sardegna, and received her first salute from Master Sgt. Brian Boyt. She will serve in the military intelligence branch and will attend the Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
2nd Lt. Austin Stillman graduates from Elon with a bachelor’s degree in finance. She was pinned by his parents, Bradford and Christa Stillman, and received his first salute from Master Sgt. Brian Boyt. He will serve in the medical services branch and will attend the Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, before attending flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, en route to becoming a MEDEVAC pilot.