To Serve and Lead
Tracy Seipel and Lauren Loftus
Retired U.S. Army General H.R. McMaster urges 2019 commissioning cadets to uphold “warrior ethos” in all pursuits.
If there was one message retired U.S. Army General H.R. McMaster sought to impress upon Santa Clara University’s 2019 class of military science cadets at their commissioning ceremony, it was to uphold America’s covenant between the members of our military profession comprised of values such as honor, duty, courage, loyalty, and self-sacrifice.
During the June 13 event at the University’s Recital Hall, the former National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump told them, “Our warrior ethos is important because it is what makes Army units effective. It is also important because it is what makes war less inhumane.” That same ethos, he added, “makes American soldiers both warriors and humanitarians.”
The 200-member audience that included families, friends, as well as current and former military officers, had gathered to witness 14 Reserve Officer Training Corps members receive their commissions as Second Lieutenants in the Army.
As Second Lieutenants are generally placed in command of a platoon while serving, McMaster urged the officers to be responsible leaders.
“You and your sergeants will have the opportunity to build a team committed to excellence and committed to each other,” he said. “Your mission is simple—make your part of our Army the best it can be.”
All 14 graduates plan to attend an Army Basic Officer Leaders course, after which they will pursue a number of career paths, from active duty to Army Reserves to graduate school.
The ROTC program, offered at more than 1,700 colleges and universities across the U.S., prepares young adults to become officers in the U.S. military.
Santa Clara’s program, known as the “Bronco Battalion,” includes cadets from SCU, San Jose State University, Stanford University, and UC Santa Cruz, and annually commissions 12 to 16 new Second Lieutenants. This year’s graduating class numbers five Santa Clara students: Sage Buzzini ’19, Joseph Cha ’19, Derek Gitmed ’19, Brandon Louie MBA ’19, and Victoria Whang ’19.
Whang, a computer science major from Gig Harbor, Washington, said the commissioning felt "absolutely surreal" and humbling. "I've invested four years toward my commission and I am constantly reminded that in order to be successful, I cannot abuse this privilege on behalf of my own betterment," she said.
A National ROTC Scholarship recipient, Whang said her experience as both a full-time student and an ROTC cadet was a balancing act of late night study sessions and early morning work-outs, extracurricular activities and a social life. "I've grown to be thankful for these challenges because they've shaped me to be a leader," she said. Following graduation, Whang plans to serve as a reserve cyber officer—overseeing cyberspace operations in support of defense programs—while working full-time as an engineer at Google.
During his keynote address, McMaster said that even though the cadets may have been too young to have a “direct memory” of 9/11, the national tragedy “taught us that battlegrounds overseas are inexorably connected to our own security.”
As the War on Terror continues, he thanked them for answering the call to service, as well as their families “whose support is so important to your ability to answer that call.”
McMaster, who spent decades in the military, is familiar with its hardships and sacrifices.
During his 34-year-long Army career, the three-star Lieutenant General served overseas as advisor to the most senior commanders in the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army after graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1984, he also holds a Ph.D. in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He served in the Trump administration as National Security Advisor from February 20, 2017, to April 9, 2018, retiring from the U.S. Army two months later.
Jun 15, 2019
Retired U.S. Army General H.R. McMaster speaks with the 2019 commissioning class of Military Science cadets at Santa Clara University. Photo by Charles Barry.