Columbus State ROTC Commissions its Largest Class of Second Lieutenants in a Decade

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Friday, May 17th, 2024

In its largest commissioning ceremony since May 2014, Columbus State University’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, battalion commissioned 19 of its cadets as the newest second lieutenants of the U.S. Army. The ceremony was part of the university’s Spring 2024 graduation events, which included its three commencement ceremonies on May 10 where these commissioning cadets also received their academic degrees.

The spring class of commissionees included 14 who earned undergraduate degrees and five who earned master’s degrees.

The group completed their studies with an average 3.58 grade point average, and six of the 19 received Distinguished Military Graduate honors for ranking among the top 20% of the U.S. Army Cadet Command’s 2024 commissioning class nationwide. Col. Patrick Douglas, commander of the 197th Infantry Brigade at nearby Fort Moore, commended the cadets’ collective academic strengths and physical fitness attributes.

“The Cougar Battalion has produced exceptional officers for over 50 years—not mediocre, not officers that get by, but exceptional officers,” he said.

Speaking to the cadets, he continued, “You have chosen to embrace this opportunity to serve [your] country and [to accept] the tremendous responsibility to serve as a leader responsible for our nation’s treasure—its sons and daughters.”

During the ceremony, the new second lieutenants received their gold bars, pinned on by family and friends, marking their commissioning. Following that, each received their first salute—an acknowledgment of the respect now due to the newly minted officer. The tradition is known as the “Silver Dollar Salute,” as it includes a coin exchange between the second lieutenant and the service member rendering the first salute as a symbolic request to be trained and mentored by a professional man-at-arms.

“It’s a pleasure and an honor to recognize you today as Columbus State graduates, but also to thank you for the service that you’re about to embark upon,” President Stuart Rayfield said before presenting each of the Army’s newest second lieutenants with a Columbus State presidential coin. “We’re very proud to have you as part of the Columbus State University family.”

In June 1974, the battalion commissioned its first 12 ROTC graduates this spring, and since then, CSU’s ROTC program has grown in both size and reputation. Over the last 50 years, the Cougar Battalion has commissioned over 650 officers and is recognized as one of the strongest units in the U.S. Army Cadet Command.