In two ceremonies last week, 15 University of Louisville Army ROTC students and five Air Force ROTC students became commissioned officers.

In both ceremonies, each new officer received a commission certificate, then family members or friends pinned bars to the service members’ uniforms. The tradition of the first salute followed, in which the new second lieutenant presented a silver dollar to the first enlisted person who rendered a salute.

Newly minted U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Alexsis Carter gives her first salute to her father, a retired Army staff sergeant.

During the Cardinal Battalion Army ROTC ceremony in Middleton Auditorium, the 15 UofL cadets and an additional two Bellarmine University cadets were each commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to their branches. In addition to numerous family members and friends, Bellarmine University President Susan Donovan attended, as did UofL College of Arts and Sciences Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard.

Guest speaker retired U.S. Army Major General Byron S. Bagby, whose daughter Jessica  graduated from UofL in 2013, told the cadets their success would depend on their attitude.

He reminded them that the commissioning marks a transition in their lives, and they will be leading “America’s sons and daughters,” whose parents have put their trust in these new platoon leaders.

The cadets receive gold bars that are pinned to their uniforms to signify their new rank. New U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Molly Haebig receives her bars from her parents, both retired from the military.

Lt. Col. Jessica Murnock, UofL professor of military science, said in opening remarks that most of the thousands of UofL graduates participating in the weekend’s commencement exercises wouldn’t know that this small group of “brave young men and women” had volunteered to defend their freedom.

Lt. Col. Jessica Murnock, UofL professor of military science

The following Army cadets were promoted: Hermilo Acuna, Rachel Bierman, Alexsis Carter, Nicholas Christopher, Charles Creed, Caroline Duplessis, Lukas Esterle, Molly Haebig, Eilish Haggerty, Zachary McCabe, Ryan McGuire, Reed McKinley, Katrina Riley, Chelsea Slayton (Bellarmine), Hunter Smith (Bellarmine), James Van Pelt and Trevor Williams.

UofL’s Army ROTC has commissioned more than 400 officers during its 36-year history.

In a separate ceremony in the Swain Student Activities Center, five Air Force ROTC cadets were commissioned. They were Benjamin See, Suzanne Miller, Brian Morrow, Judson Adams and Elliott Cabrera.

The Air Force cadets are part of the 295th Air Force ROTC Cadet Wing, led by Lt. Col. Jerry Crigger.


Janet Cappiello covers student success for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, including working for The Associated Press and magazines such as Vegetarian Times and Sustainability: The Journal of Record. She has been at UofL since 2014.