On the Ridge

Niagara University’s Army ROTC Program Commissions 20 Officers

Twenty Niagara University Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets were commissioned second lieutenants in the U.S. Army during a May 11 ceremony in NU’s Gallagher Center. It marked the 71st consecutive year that members of NU’s Purple Battalion have taken the oath of office.

After the students took the oath, family members pinned gold bars on the shoulders of the new second lieutenants:

Michael Barry (Hummelstown, Pa.)
Chris Candelaria (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Robert Conroy (Hamburg, N.Y.)
David Gaiser (Lancaster, N.Y.)
Andrew Garry (Monroe, N.Y.)
Peter Gerritsen (Highland, N.Y.)
Christopher Haggard (Summit Hill, Pa.)
Jeffrey Hope (Fort Drum, N.Y.)
Gregory Hotaling (Fishkill, N.Y.)
John Levulis (Eden, N.Y.)
Chul Lim (Queens, N.Y.)
James McCoy (Grand Island, N.Y.)
Richard McKee (Buffalo, N.Y.)
David Miller (North Tonawanda, N.Y.)
Kyle Pare (Syracuse, N.Y.)
Vincent Powierski (Marathon, N.Y.)
Shawn Reidy (Frewsburg, N.Y.)
Matthew Rongey (Amberg, Germany)
Sarah Shaffer (Rochester, N.Y.)
Christopher Tornabene (Clarence, N.Y.)

Lt. Col. Paul T. Danserau, a professor of military science at NU, spoke of the unique company that the 20 newly commissioned officers find themselves in, referencing the fact that only 1 percent of the country’s population volunteers to serve in the United States Armed Forces.

“All year, they have led the Purple Eagle Battalion from the front, served as role models for other cadets and met the rigorous demands of a Niagara University degree,” he noted. “They are proudly joining those who came before them to form a legacy of quality military officers. This Niagara legacy has seen its alumni serve with distinction as Army officers in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. As the Army enters into a period of transition and complex threats to the United States remain, these officers will write chapters in the United States Army’s legacy in the years to come.”

Maj. Gen. Robert Kasulke, the commanding general of the Army Reserve Medical Command, served as the keynote speaker. Commissioned in 1980, Maj. Gen. Kasulke’s decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Silver Hourglass, the Overseas Training Ribbon, second award, and the Expert Field Medical Badge. The Surgeon General named MG Kasulke a Distinguished Member of the Medical Regiment. He is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit.

The Army ROTC program is designed to augment the college learning experience by identifying and developing future leaders. Its primary goals are to identify, instruct and commission young men and women for service as officers in the United States Army Reserve or the Army National Guard. Intermediate goals include providing students with the managerial skills necessary to organize and effectively run a student club, small business, or an Army platoon.

In the last seven years, Niagara has been ranked in the top 10 percent of Army ROTC programs in the United States. The Purple Eagle Battalion’s rise to excellence culminated in 2004, when it was the top-ranked program in the nation.

Additional photos from the commissioning ceremony can be viewed on Niagara University’s Facebook page.