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May 30, 2007
DH 07 JH

ROTC Commissioning Ceremony Celebrates New Officer, Soldiers' Commitment to Their Country

Carson, CA The second annual Commissioning Ceremony for the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at California State University, Dominguez Hills was held May 22 in the Sculpture Garden. The ceremony honored three recent CSUDH graduates who are also veterans of the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cadet Alan Leutele (Class of ’07, B.S., public administration) was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, the junior rank in the officer corps. Also recognized were Cadet Enrique Monreal (Class of ’07, B.S., public administration) and Cadet Sally Ramirez (Class of ’07, B.A., communications), who will both be commissioned as second lieutenants at the end of this summer upon completing training camp.

Keynote speaker Brigadier General John Harrel, assistant division commander-maneuver of the 40th Infantry Division of the California National Guard, greeted the cadets and the audience of family, friends, and CSUDH faculty and staff. He commended the cadets for their commitment to the Army and their country, pointing out the shortage of young people who are willing to take on the responsibilities of climbing up the ranks in the officer corps.

“Today, only one person out of a hundred in their age group joins any military service at all,” he noted in his address. “In that same group, only one in a thousand decides they want to be an officer, just like these three have. The responsibility we put on a young officer equates to a middle-management position at a factory or in government service. They’re going to be in charge of at least 50 people and are responsible for everything those people do or don’t do, for making sure they’re trained, and that they understand their mission.”

He also commended the cadets for their desire to serve in ROTC even after all three had completed tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. Leutele served in the 3rd Infantry Division, which fought its way to Baghdad during the invasion of Iraq. Monreal served in the 82nd Airborne Division, helping to unseat the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Ramirez is a National Guard military police soldier who served in Iraq.

“These are the people that make a difference when we’re working with a village chief in Afghanistan or working with the locals in Baghdad,” he noted. “They were trained to treat people with dignity and respect, including the enemy. The advantage is that they’ve already been there, they’ve seen what could happen, and they’ve stepped forward to do it again. That’s the type of Americans we have here today to honor and that it is my privilege to address.”

Ramirez, served in Iraq for from 2003 to 2004 as military police in charge of a prison. She knows that she and her fellow cadets Leutele and Monreal will most likely be deployed again, and feels more prepared.

“We know from the news that it’s not finished,” she says. “But we’re ready.”
Monreal says he was inspired to join ROTC even after his duty was completed because he thinks, “I could do more. I’d like to become a lieutenant and take more responsibility and want to go back into the field as an officer since I feel better trained.”

Leutele, who served for 15 months in Iraq, managed to survive the experience in part by the camaraderie of his fellow soldiers.

“My belief in a higher supreme being, my parents, and my family got me through,” he remembers. “But the main thing that inspired me day in and day out was the close-knit relationship I had with my fellow soldiers in the infantry. We kept each other sane and worked to get everyone back home safely.”

The university’s ROTC program, named the Trojan Battalion, is in affiliation with cadres at California State University, Long Beach and USC. Ramirez is one of five female cadets in Trojan Batallion, four of whom are from Dominguez Hills.

“There are higher expectations of females,” she notes. “Everybody works together in support of you, and your fellow soldiers will help you out. My female drill sergeant pushed me the hardest and always said I would achieve. But we had to prove ourselves way more than the males do.”

Monreal, who was able to bypass the full four-year program due to his service in Afghanistan, was a cadet for two years and one of the first on the Dominguez Hills campus.

“We were the front runners, so it was a lot of fun getting the program up and going, starting off with only four of us,” he recalls. “We’ve grown to have 26 cadets in the program. We work alongside great individuals, and the cadre officers teach us a lot. Everyone here contributes so much; not one person stands out above the rest.”

James Strong, dean of the College of Business and Public Administration, wherein ROTC resides, points out the correlations between the study of business and military strategies.

“The Army’s number one goal is to teach leadership,” he says. “Leadership is important to future leaders in business, public administration and criminal justice. The principles of strategy used in business and government are the same strategic principles used in the military. So it fits nicely into our college.”

ROTC courses are designed to give students a glimpse of what it is like to be in the Army. They do not sign a contract committing them to military service until their junior year. The financial gains are also a draw for students, who are eligible to apply for full-tuition scholarships or financial assistance. Cadets who contractually commit to ROTC are paid a monthly stipend. Additional GI Bill benefits are available to cadets who are currently serving in the National Guard or Army Reserves or who have already served on active duty. In fiscal terms for the university, ROTC faculty are paid for by the U.S. Army and do not come out of the state budget.

“It’s a great way to receive your degree with scholarships and additional funding by ROTC to help you out,” says Monreal. “It leads to wonderful experiences and the military itself is a great stepping stone for anyone who isn’t too sure of what they want to do yet.”

Ramirez, who is the first member of her family to join the service, says that ROTC is a great opportunity for anyone who is considering a military career.

“You get excellent training and can feel confident and well-prepared for any challenges ahead,” she says.

“My parents thought I was crazy to do this at first,” Ramirez says with a smile. “Now they see everything I’ve done and they’re really happy that I like what I’m doing. I am too.”

For more information on the ROTC program at CSUDH visit www.trojanrotc.org or contact Maj. Ted Arlauskas at (310) 243-3017; tarlauskas@csudh.edu.

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Last updated May 30, 2007, 4:12 p.m.
by Joanie Harmon-Whetmore