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 ROTC Battalion wins MacArthur Award

On Feb. 2, the Santa Clara University ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) “Bronco Battalion” was recognized as one of the top units in the nation, winning the prestigious MacArthur Award granted by the U.S. Army’s Cadet Command and the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation.

The awards, named after late General Douglas MacArthur, recognize unit performance based on his ideals of “duty, honor, country.” The award takes into consideration factors such as the battalion’s physical fitness, navigation skills, leadership, and success in commissioning officers after ROTC.

SCU’s battalion also includes cadets from San Jose State University and Stanford University. In winning the award, SCU’s ROTC program surpassed those of 32 other schools from eight states and Guam and places it among only eight ROTC battalions nationally to win the award. Among the standout factors for SCU, according to SCU Military Science Department Director Lt. Col. Shawn Cowley:

  • Several battalion cadets won highly competitive overseas cultural internships sponsored by the Army, to travel to places like Indonesia, the Czech Republic, Jordan, Costa Rica, and Russia. SCU law student and cadet Aldo Zilli toured Guantanamo Bay’s facilities during an Army Judge Advocate General internship in Virginia this past summer.
  • Numerous cadets won national-level awards this year, including San Jose State University cadet Alejandra Del Rello, who won National Hispanic Engineering Cadet of the Year, and recent SCU graduate 2nd Lt. Alexander Kneefel ’09, who won one of 20 Society of American Military Engineers awards nationally. 2nd Lt. Brittany Clark, SCU ’09, won the Pallas Athene Award as the most outstanding female cadet in the 8th Brigade.
  • Sixteen graduating seniors became commissioned officers in the Army, Army Reserves, or National Guard—more than the 14 expected to do so four years ago.
  • Lt. Col. Cowley won Professor of Military Science of the Year for the 8th Brigade, and was nominated for the same award nationally. (Results will be announced sometime in the next month.)
  • SCU’s Capt. Vince Mucker won Recruiting Operations Officer of the Year for the 8th Brigade, and was nominated for the same award nationally.
  • SCU was one of only three schools in the 8th Brigade to have had zero failures at last summer’s Leadership Development Assessment Course, at which SCU senior Benny Tran was named Top Cadet in his regiment. The battalion ranked in the top 5 percent for training. Cowley said SCU played a big part in making cadets successful, including allowing them to go abroad in their sophomore year, to accommodate a heavy training regimen for junior cadets. Also, professors like David Pinault and David DeCosse teach the cadets about Islam and military ethics, respectively— desirable training that many other universities don’t offer. Professor George Giacomini, a former SCU regimental cadet commander, teaches military history.

“You can definitely see the influence of the University on ROTC, and those factors are what the Army really needs,” said Cowley. “They are looking to increase the percentage of science, technology, and engineering majors among the officer corps, and because of the nature of the world, we need officers who are more culturally aware.”

Cadets in ROTC are making a large commitment even before they join the Army, Cowley said. They have physical training at least three days a week starting at 6:30 a.m.; they have about three hours of classes a week, not counting a weekly lab or assorted training or educational workshops; and many join related clubs like a weekend running club or a rifle club. Many spend their summers learning how to parachute out of airplanes, survive in the mountains, or intern in actual Army units. Those who remain in ROTC as of their junior year are committing to joining the Army in some capacity upon graduation, he explained. Notable Bronco ROTC alumni include CIA Director Leon Panetta, Rita Tamayo, the first female ROTC cadet commander in the nation in 1976, and Lt. General Joseph Peterson, the deputy commanding general of the United States Army Forces Command.

Cadre instructors include Major Larry Gnewuch, the Armed Forces National Champion in the Pentathlon, and Major Jason Cullinane, a four-time track and field all-American who placed 9th in the Atlanta Olympic team trials.

“We already have above-average cadets coming in as freshmen,” said Cowley. “Winning the MacArthur Award means we are turning them from above-average to excellent. My hat is off to the cadre because they’ve really done a great job.”

Learn more about ROTC at Santa Clara.

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