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ETSU ROTC commissions graduates as second lieutenants in U.S. Army

Contributed To The Press • Updated May 3, 2019 at 5:23 PM

Six cadets in the Army ROTC Program at East Tennessee State University took the oath of office Friday and were commissioned as second lieutenants during a ceremony held at Antioch Baptist Church. The new officers will serve in various branches upon graduation from ETSU.

The six graduating members of the Buccaneer Battalion will receive their diplomas at ETSU’s commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 4. Those who commissioned as second lieutenants are:

• Matthew Douglas Carson, of Ashe County, North Carolina, has earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He served as the battalion S-2 and special projects officer and held the rank of cadet captain. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Armor branch. Upon completion of the Armor Officer Basic Course, Carson will be assigned to the 278th Armored Cavalry Squadron based in Mt. Carmel. He is the son of James Carson and Angela Miller.

• Eric Arthur Colen Jr., of Chattanooga, served as an executive officer for the Buccaneer Battalion and held the rank of cadet major. He will receive a degree in criminal justice with a minor in military science and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry. He will attend the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. Colen is the son of Eric and Deborah Colen.

• Hayden Lewis, a Bristol, Tennessee, native and ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate performing in the top 20 percent of newly commissioned lieutenants, completed a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a minor in military science. Lewis served as company commander and the battalion assistant S-3 and held the rank of cadet captain. The son of Brian and Shanna Lewis, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Armor branch.

• Caitlin Dakota Richmond from Bristol, Tennessee, will obtain a bachelor’s in social work. She is the daughter of Charles and Jane Richmond and held the rank of cadet lieutenant colonel in the Buccaneer Battalion. An ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate performing in the top 10 percent of newly commissioned lieutenants, Richmond was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Medical Services and will be stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

• William Samuel Cole Tester, originally from Kansas City, Kansas, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry. The son of James Tester and Angela Goforth, served as the command sergeant major and held the rank of cadet command sergeant major. He will serve at ETSU as a gold bar recruiter until he attends the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, and will be stationed in Germany. Tester earned a degree in interdisciplinary studies.

• Shane Adam Willis served as the S-4 and PT officer in charge and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Military Police Corps and will be stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, for his Basic Officers Leaders Course. The Bristol, Tennessee, native earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is the son of Larry and Velvet Willis.

In addition to the pinning of the bars, the commissionees also took part in the “Silver Dollar Tradition,” giving a shiny silver dollar to the first enlisted soldier to salute him or her.

Lt. Col. Shawn Dodge, professor and chairman of military science, and retired Lt. Gen. Ron Hite addressed commissionees at the ceremony.

A native of Washington County, Hite is a member of the ETSU Class of 1964, and commissioned as a second lieutenant of infantry. His outstanding performance as an ROTC cadet also earned him recognition as a Distinguished Military Graduate.

Hite has 33 years of commissioned military service. Notable assignments include the first commander of the Army’s Combat Systems Test Activity in Aberdeen (Md.) Proving Ground; development of the Army’s High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle and several major weapons systems; and Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research, Development, and Acquisition, providing testimony before the House and Senate Defense Committees and directing the Army’s Acquisition Corps.

“Remember, the mission comes first,” Hite said to the new officers. “Successful leaders have to be firm, flexible and fair. You can and will changes lives.”

In his civilian career, Hite serves as president and CEO of Cypress International, based in Alexandria, Virginia. He remains an active supporter of ETSU and serves as chairman of the ETSU Foundation board of directors.

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