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Saluting New Second Lieutenants

Army ROTC’s newly commissioned officers at Stetson (from left): 2nd Lt. Christian Acosta, 2nd Lt. Richard Cupoli, 2nd Lt. Joshua Gilliland, 2nd Lt. John Hester and 2nd Lt. Thomas Williams

A heartfelt congratulatory salute and off they went with commissions as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

On Friday, May 11, five graduating seniors in Eagle Battalion Army ROTC marched forward in their careers during Stetson University’s Army ROTC Commissioning Ceremony. The event was held at Lee Chapel on campus in DeLand, as family members applauded and, in some cases, pinned gold bars on the new officers’ shoulders.

The five new officers: Christian Acosta, Active Duty – Armor; Richard Cupoli, U.S. Army Reserves – Adjutant General Corps; Joshua Gilliland, Active Duty – Military Intelligence/Detailed Armor; John Hester,  Active Duty – Infantry; and Thomas Williams, Active Duty – Field Artillery.

Retired Lt. Col. Oakland McCulloch, recruiting operations officer for Army ROTC at Stetson.

The ROTC program at Stetson provides students the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge necessary to serve as an officer in the Army. Notably, Army ROTC produces 75 percent of all Army officers across the United States.

Acosta, from Orlando, Florida, graduates with a Bachelor of Applied Science in supervision and management. He will attend Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) at Fort Benning, Georgia. His official pinning was performed by his parents, Sandra Ortiz and Yafet Lugo.

2018 ROTC Commissioning Ceremony
Cupoli, from Melbourne, Florida, graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in religious studies. He will attend BOLC at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Parents Rick and Tammy Cupoli had the pinning honors.

Gilliland arrived at Stetson from St. Augustine, Florida, and graduates with a Bachelor of Science in environmental science. He will attend Armor BOLC at Fort Benning, Georgia. Pinning was done by Retired Col. David Roberts.

Hester, from Tampa, Florida, graduates with a Bachelor of Science in sports business and also will attend Infantry BOLC at Fort Benning, Georgia. Pinning was performed by Retired Major Gen. Mike Lyle and Christine Hester, his mother (a former Military Police Officer).

Williams, who grew up in Merritt Island, Florida, graduates with a Bachelor of Business Administration. He will attend BOLC at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Ed Pinkney and Tom Williams had the pinning honors.

As part of his closing message, Retired Lt. Col. Oakland McCulloch, Stetson’s recruiting operations officer for Army ROTC, pointed to the accomplishments and, ultimately, their meaning: “This is a special day for these fine young men. I can tell you that I’m 120 years old [said in jest], and there aren’t many days that I can remember like it was yesterday. But one of them is when I got commissioned. So, they will remember this day for the rest of the life. … Enjoy the day; this day is all about you. But today is the last day it’s all about you. Once we pin those bars on your shoulders, it’s no longer about you. It’s about your soldiers, the mission, your unit, the Army and this country. Congratulations.”

Michael Candelaria