Four ROTC Cadets Commissioned

May 12, 2017

2nd Lt. Alex Swonger, 2nd Lt. Jason Douglass, 2nd Lt. William LaPierre, and 2nd Lt. Cody Walker

“What a great day to commission these future leaders,” said Lieutenant Colonel Janus T. Fraley, professor of military science, as he welcomed families and friends to the commissioning ceremony for four Saint Leo Army ROTC cadets. They were commissioned as second lieutenants into the U.S. Army in an evening ceremony on April 29, and also were recognized during the undergraduate commencement earlier that day.

Cadets receive bachelor’s degrees and complete U.S. Army ROTC requirements through

Saint Leo and the Suncoast Battalion, which includes the University of South Florida. They generally receive postings starting immediately after graduation.

Dr. William J. Lennox Jr., university president and retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, was the guest speaker. “You’re leaving a great family at Saint Leo and entering another great family in the Army,” Lennox said. “Very few Americans are taking on the responsibility that you are taking. You are coming from families that inculcated values in you at an early age.”

He advised the new graduates to follow the four L’s and one T:

  • Lead – Have confidence in yourself.
  • Listen – Meld your confidence with the advice from your leaders.
  • Learn – Never stop learning at every opportunity.
  • Live your values – Never compromise your values; you are held to the highest standard.
  • Take care of your soldiers – They are the best this country has to offer.

The cadets individually were called to take the oath of office, have their gold bars pinned to their uniform by family members, and receive their first salute.

The new Army officers are:

  • Second Lieutenant Jason Douglass, who majored in multimedia management. He will be posted to Bonafey, FL, to work in the armor branch of the National Guard;
  • Second Lieutenant William LaPierre, who majored in hospitality management. He will be posted to New York, to work in the transportation corps of the National Guard;
  • Second Lieutenant Alex Swonger, who majored in psychology. She will be posted at Fort Bragg, NC, and will work in the Adjunct General’s Corps; and
  • Second Lieutenant Cody Walker, who majored in biology. He will be stationed in Lakeland, FL, and will work in the chemical corps in the National Guard.

Alex Swonger and sabreSwonger was recognized during the undergraduate commencement ceremony, when she was awarded the Thomas B. Southard Leadership Award Sabre. The sabre is given to the Army ROTC graduate who demonstrates leadership achievement in ROTC advanced camp, classes, and labs. Board of Trustees member Richard W. Johnson '68 presented Swonger with the sabre. Johnson recognized Swonger for her natural leadership in the classroom and for her demonstration of Saint Leo’s core value of respect.