Contact: Brittney Dabney, Office of Communications, Public Realtions and Marketing
During Tuskegee University’s Joint ROTC Commissioning Ceremony on Friday, May 10, 14 graduates from the Class of 2019 will receive their military commissions — five from the Air Force ROTC, seven from the Army ROTC, and two from the Navy ROTC. The ceremony is slated to begin at 1:00 p.m. in the University Chapel.
All Air Force and Army ROTC cadets commission as second lieutenants, and Navy ROTC midshipmen commission as ensigns. During the ceremony, the graduates will take their oath of office; have their new ranks pinned on by a mentor, spouse or loved one; exchange their first salute; and receive their commissioning certificates. After their graduation on May 11, they will move onto their first tours to lead troops, sailors and airmen around the world.
Maj. Gen. Gary M. Brito, commanding general of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence at Georgia’s Fort Benning, will give the commissioning address. Brito, a native of Hyannis, Massachusetts, was commissioned as an infantry officer through Pennsylvania State University and entered active duty in March 1987. He holds a bachelor of science degree in community studies from Penn State, a master of human resource degree from Troy University, and a second master’s degree in joint strategy and campaign planning from the Joint Advanced Warfighting School in Norfolk, Virginia.
Throughout his career, Brito has served in a variety of command and staff assignments, including commander, 120th Infantry Brigade, First Army; and commander, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment. In addition, he served in multiple company grade positions at Fort Benning, Georgia, and has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The cadets being commissioned during the May 10 ceremony include:
Air Force ROTC
Tuskegee’s Junior Infantry Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, commonly known as ROTC, was established in February 1919 at what was then Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. At the time, all male students 14 years of age or older who were in “good physical condition” were required to enroll in the unit, which included only Army programming. During World War II, the Army Air Corps contracted with then-Tuskegee Institute to conduct primary pilot training for African-Americans known as the Tuskegee Airmen — with Moton Field serving as the only site for training black Army aviators.
In 1946, when the Air Force ROTC was established, Tuskegee was among the original 78 colleges and universities to host Air Force programming. In 2013, the university added Naval ROTC to train qualified young men and women for service as commissioned officers in the Navy and Marine Corps.
Today, the Air Force, Army and Naval ROTC programs are under the command of Lt. Col. Bryan Gray, Lt. Col. Melvin E. Kindle and Capt. Willie Billingslea, respectively. To learn more about Tuskegee’s ROTC programs, visit https://www.tuskegee.edu/discover-tu/extracurricular-activities.
The Joint ROTC Commissioning Ceremony is one of several events leading up to the university’s 134th Spring Commencement Exercises on Saturday, May 11. The ceremony — featuring speaker Loretta Lynch, the nation’s 83rd U.S. attorney general — will begin at 10 a.m. in the university’s Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James Arena. For more information, www.tuskegee.edu/commencement.
© 2019, Tuskegee University