ROTC programs come together for annual awards

Cadets in Air Force, Army and Navy ROTC stood in formation April 8 in HPER West, the groups side by side, as seven of their best were awarded for their academic and military achievements at the U.

The annual Tri-Service Review began, as with all military ceremonies, with the playing of the national anthem and the presentation of the flag by the color guard.

Afterward, David Pershing, senior vice president for academic affairs, presented trophies to Air Force cadets Lindon Steadman and Jake Wilberg, Army cadets Scott Fennel and Leonard Jensen, and from the Navy ROTC, midshipman 1st class David Gentner and John Grothe and Marine Sgt. Aaron Warby.

Pershing called the ceremony “one of the most distinguished and beautiful affairs we do on campus” and welcomed students and their families, who were watching from the stands.

After congratulating the award recipients as well as every other ROTC participant, Pershing offered them some advice.

“Recognize the power of teams,” he said, telling students to be appreciative of the people “under you, not just above you.”

“Don’t be afraid of making mistakes,” he said, “and believe in yourself and be willing to take calculated risks.”

This summer, each student will complete military officer training and begin careers in the military.

“I’m looking forward to going to Florida,” said Gentner, who will spend this summer in naval flight training. Gentner, as one of the recipients of the President’s Trophy, was chosen by commanding officers as the “single most outstanding member” of the Navy ROTC program.

Gentner, a senior from Westminster, said his grades, physical fitness and ranking from peers and superior officers contributed to his selection.

The award, which is also based on leadership and service to the unit, was also presented to Army cadet Fennel and Air Force cadet Steadman.

Steadman plans to graduate next year and attend pilot training school. He is currently majoring in meteorology.

Fennell attends the U on a four-year ROTC scholarship and will attend infantry officer training school this summer. After training, he’ll begin service as a platoon leader.

Army cadet Leonard Jensen, the recipient of the Michael R. Kaufman Leadership Award, was recognized for his “long term commitment and contribution to the Ute Warrior Battalion,” Army ROTC director Col. Edwin Frederick said.

Jensen will graduate from Westminster this year with a nursing degree before beginning service in the Army Nurse Corps.

“[Fennell and Jensen] have been strong contributors to the Army ROTC program since they were freshmen. It was a great privilege that we could recognize their contributions and honor them in front of the university leadership and their fellow ROTC students. They are respected leaders among their peers and they will serve with distinction as great Army officers,” Frederick said.

Air Force cadet Wilberg, the recipient of the Air Force Commander’s Award, was recognized for his leadership, standards of performance, service and academic accomplishments. Wilberg will complete his training this summer at Aviano Air Force Base in Italy to become a logistics officer. Wilberg was grateful for the direction of his superior officers in the U’s program.

“There was a lot to learn from our non-commissioned officers,” he said.

Midshipman 1st class John Grothe, recipient of the Utah Naval Captain’s Club Award, was recognized for his accomplishments as an outstanding Navy graduate. A sword, donated by the Salt Lake City Navy Captains’ club, was presented to Grothe for his achievements, representative of the responsibility and authority the senior officers were passing on to Grothe.

Marine sergeant Aaron Warby received the Major Jackson Howard Award.

The award, named in honor of Howard, who died in an aircraft accident during active duty, was presented to Warby by the deceased major’s brother, Navy Commander Andrew Howard.

Warby is the 23rd recipient of the award. “I may have lost a brother, but I gained 23 more,” Howard said.

Warby said the award was a great honor.

He will complete his training in Virginia this summer before being assigned to a military job.

“The award recognizes valor, honor, courage, commitment, love of country and love of the constitution,” Howard said, “and my brother stood for them all.”

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