New officers commissioned in winter ceremony


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (December 14, 2012) — Four new officers entered the ranks of this nation’s armed services during a winter commissioning ceremony Friday. Members of the university’s Air Force and Army ROTC programs were commissioned as second lieutenants at Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Museum.

Using the somber tale of Joshua Chamberlain, the Union general noted for his valiant defense in the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War, the cadets got some leadership advice from Adjutant Gen. Perry Smith of the Alabama National Guard. Although not a trained military leader, Smith said Chamberlain used his communication and listening skills to lead a Union army to victory.

He said one of the most important things for new leaders to realize is that giving orders does not demand obedience. He said developing persuasion skills and being a likable person are key to getting subordinates to follow orders.

“You are a salesman. Everybody in this room is a salesperson,” Smith said. “The only problem is nobody wants to be sold anything. … Until you get the door open to where they will listen to you so you can sell your concept.”

Smith said it is vital that the new officers learn how to make others feel comfortable about talking about themselves and that they learn how to listen to what is important to those they lead.

“So if you make somebody believe that what they are saying is important to you, they are going to like you. That’s what happened with Chamberlain,” Smith said. “He made them think what they had to say was important. Then, they bought what he had to say.”

The newly commissioned officer for the U.S. Air Force is Reginald Davis, an aerospace engineering major from Simpsonville, SC. As No.1 in his cadet class, Davis was also recognized as a Distinguished Military Graduate. The new U.S. Army officers: Nigel Hunter, an occupational therapy major from Fayetteville, Ga.; William Johnson, a biology major from St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Katherine Williams, an animal science major from Apple Valley, Calif.

For additional photos of the ceremony, visit the official Tuskegee University Facebook page.

Legand Burge, dean of the College of Engineering; Lt. Col. Kelly Primus, commander of the Air Force ROTC program, Adjutant Gen. Perry Smith of the Alabama National Guard; and Lt. Col. Robbie Cross, commander of the Army ROTC program pose with the newly commissioned cadets.

Adjutant Gen. Perry Smith of the Alabama National Guard.

© 2012 Tuskegee University

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