Seven ROTC Cadets Commissioned

May 01, 2014

Left to right: 2nd Lt. Bush, 2nd Lt. Keown, 2nd Lt. Gonzalez, 2nd Lt. Swonger, 2nd Lt. Crawford, 2nd Lt. Weidner, and 2nd Lt. Trick

Seven graduating students from Saint Leo University’s ROTC program at University Campus were commissioned as second lieutenants into the U.S. Army in a Thursday morning ceremony. The new officers will also be recognized during the undergraduate commencement Saturday afternoon at University Campus.

Cadets receive bachelor’s degrees and complete U.S. Army ROTC requirements through Saint Leo and the Suncoast Battalion, which encompasses several area colleges and universities. They generally receive postings starting immediately after graduation.

The new Army officers are:

  • Second Lieutenant Travis S. Bush, who majored in political science. He will be posted to Tampa, FL, to work in the quartermaster corps in the Army Reserves.
  • Second Lieutenant John D. Crawford, who majored in business management. He will be posted to Ocala, FL, to work in the infantry branch of the National Guard.
  • Second Lieutenant Christopher Gonzalez, who earned his degree in computer information systems. He will be stationed in Fort Drum, NY, and will be assigned to the signal corps.
  • Second Lieutenant Gabriel F. Keown, Jr., who majored in criminal justice with a specialization in homeland security, and was a member of the men’s swimming team. He will be stationed in Scranton, PA, and will be assigned to the military police corps in the Army Reserves.
  • Second Lieutenant Christopher J. Swonger, who majored in business management. He will be attending the Basic Officer Leadership Course in Fort Benning, GA. In November, 2014, he will be assigned to the military intelligence branch with branch detail infantry.
  • Second Lieutenant Anthony D. Trick, who studied political science and graduates cum laude. Second Lieutenant Trick has previous Army service, and further distinguished himself by speaking at the University Campus 2013 Veterans Day observance. He will be posted to Fort Riley, KS, to work in the medical service corps.
  • Second Lieutenant Matthew Weidner, who majored in criminal justice with a specialization in homeland security. He will; be stationed at Fort Bliss, TX, and will be assigned to the transportation corps.

Alumnus Nestor Lugo ’13, who was commissioned last year, traveled from Camp Casey in South Korea to administer the oath to his friend, new Second Lt. Seth Bush. Two former ROTC advisors, Majors Bryan Dunker and Scott Dunkle also returned to participated, in Major Dunkle’s case through a video teleconferencing connection from Ft. Leavenworth, KS.

The guest speaker at Thursday’s ceremony was Colonel K. Steven Collier, U.S. Army (Ret.) (pictured). Col. Collier is a graduate of the U.S. Military where he was commissioned as a Regular Army Armor Officer. His first assignment was as Tank Platoon Leader in Charlie Company 3rd Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment of the 2nd Armored Division (“Hell on Wheels” or “Patton’s Own”) at Ft. Hood, TX.

Among his many military accomplishments, Col. Collier commanded the 2nd Battalion 77th Armored Regiment (Iron Tigers), 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Carson, CO. He also served at the Pentagon as the Project Lead for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with responsibly for evaluating national plans, policies, and procedures for dealing with terrorist attacks utilizing weapons of mass destruction and cyber warfare. Upon retirement, Col. Collier returned to Dade City and founded a company – Technology Management & Innovative Solutions. He has amassed thirty-five years of increasing managerial responsibilities in the U.S. Army, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the corporate world.

Col. Collier offered eight recommendations for the class of commissioned cadets:

  1. Know your job.
  2. Take care of your soldiers.
  3. Be a good listener.
  4. Never take a short cut with your integrity.
  5. Lead by example.
  6. Read and learn from history.
  7. Join the Association of the U.S. Army.
  8. Have fun!

“As members of the ‘profession of arms,’ nothing can substitute for being prepared,” said Col. Collier. “A true professional prays against his own best success. Rapid promotion and combat medals are fine, but I would encourage all of you to pray for peace,” stated Col. Collier.

Saint Leo University ranks as one of the leading providers of higher education to the military, and in 2013, Saint Leo celebrated its 40-year anniversary of educating active duty military, veterans, and their families.