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Widener ROTC Commissions 10 Cadets From Three Area Universities

Widener University’s Dauntless Battalion commissioned 10 cadets as second lieutenants of the U.S. Army on Thursday, May 16. Four cadets from Villanova University took their oaths of office in a special ceremony on Villanova's campus in the morning. In the afternoon, cadets from both Widener and West Chester University of Pennsylvania participated in a joint commissioning ceremony in front of Widener's Old Main building by the university's Veterans Memorial.

Widener is the host institution for ROTC activity at the Abington and Brandywine campuses of Pennsylvania State University, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Immaculata University, Neumann University, Villanova University and West Chester University of Pennsylvania. These partnerships help make Widener's Reserve Officers' Training Corps program one of the largest in the region, with 115 active cadets this academic year.

Lt. Col. Donald J. McDannald, battalion commander and professor of military science, presided over the commissioning ceremonies. He told the cadets that by becoming second lieutenants of the U.S. Army, they were helping Widener University carry on a long tradition of producing military leaders of character, honor and integrity.ROTC

David A. Christian delivered the keynote address at both May 16 ceremonies. He is a decorated American Vietnam War veteran who is best known for his veterans advocacy efforts. Christian enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 17. After being rapidly promoted through the enlisted ranks to sergeant, he gained admission to Army Officer Candidate School and was commissioned at the young age of 18. He then completed Army Airborne School and Army Special Forces Training and was promoted to captain at age 20. He medically retired from the Army at age 21 after sustaining critical burns from Napalm.

As a civilian, he served the federal government through presidential appointments and service with the Department of Defense, CIA, FBI and U.S. Department of State. Today he is president of DAC Val Corporation, which manufactures bomb-loading equipment for U.S. Navy aircraft carriers.

Christian told the cadets that by being commissioned, they are taking on a great responsibility to defend our freedoms. He encouraged them to dig deep to find the leadership they need to fight today's enemies.

The 10 cadets who were commissioned include: Kelly A. Binder, Villanova; Blake Crowther, West Chester; Elise M. Fink, Villanova; Ryan Holbein, Widener; Daniel Karakas, Widener; Jacob P. Schwarber, Villanova; Jordan Shenk, Widener; Andrew J. Smith, Villanova; Frances Smith, Widener; and Alexa Vaders, West Chester.

In addition to these 10 cadets, three cadets from West Chester University were commissioned in a winter ceremony: Matthew Gotzy, Jonathan Guelzo and Matthew Miller, which brings this year's commissioned class to a grand total of 13 members. Three more are scheduled to commission in August.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees. The university's campuses in Chester, Exton, Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,500 students. Visit the university website,




Photo Caption: Widener's Frances Smith shakes hands with guest speaker David A. Christian following the commissioning ceremony on Widener's campus.