By Joe Garvey

Thirty-one Navy, Army and Marine Corps ROTC students from four universities (Old Dominion, Hampton, Norfolk State and Regent) became officers at ODU's annual Spring Commissioning Ceremony.

New ensigns and 2nd lieutenants swore an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" during a ceremony on May 5 at Chartway Arena.

"It's one of the most important oaths you will take in your lives," said Vice Adm. James Kilby, deputy commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command. "It's up there with marriage vows and a commitment to God if you choose to believe. You'll repeat it every time you get promoted. And every time you hear it, or deliver it, it's a chance to rejuvenate your commitment to that oath."

Army ROTC was established at Old Dominion University in September 1969 as part of the Darden School of Education. Since its inception, the program has grown, as seen in the establishment of a military science curriculum fully recognized by the University for academic credit during the 1974-75 school year. That milestone was followed in 2003 by the Faculty Senate approval of an academic minor in military leadership studies. The Naval ROTC Unit Hampton Roads was commissioned in 1982. It was the first unit to offer complete NROTC programs at three institutions - ODU, Norfolk State and Hampton. It has since grown to include Regent University and Tidewater Community College.

Lt. Col. Camala L. Coats, commanding officer of AROTC ODU and professor of military science, said the members of the newest class of officers "have each separated and distinguished themselves from their peers, answered their country's call, and will begin a new and exciting phase of their lives. We are confident that they are prepared to lead America's sons and daughters as skilled professionals and leaders of character in our armed forces."

Kilby said the situation in Ukraine illustrates the importance of the roles the new officers are about to take on.

"Sadly, right now as we see in Europe, the Ukrainian military and populace is fighting desperately to preserve their way of life," he said. "It's heart-rending to watch this. And it's a poignant reminder that freedom is not guaranteed and that it has to be defended. And that is all a charge to each and every one of you, and the soldiers, sailors and Marines that you will lead in the future."

Kilby credited the families of the new officers with playing an important role in getting them to this point.

"I had a boss who said family readiness equals fleet readiness," he said. "And what that means is you provided a toughness, you provided a resilience when we're down. It's a partnership, and we couldn't do it without you."

A total of 24 ODU students received commissions.

Thirteen were commissioned as ensigns in the U.S. Navy. They are listed with their hometowns, major and military position:

  • Jonathan Andres, Springfield, B.S. electrical engineering, submarine officer
  • Immanuel Arlanza, Virginia Beach, B.S. mechanical engineering technology, surface warfare officer
  • Winston Burns, Murrieta, California, B.A political science, surface warfare officer
  • Chanel Flores-Vargas, Norfolk, B.S. physical oceanography, SWO oceanography
  • David Forbes, Virginia Beach, B.S. mechanical engineering technology, Naval flight officer
  • Matthew Katuzienski, Yorktown, B.S. geography, surface warfare officer
  • Samuel Le, Fairfax, B.S. cybersecurity, surface warfare officer
  • Elijah Matz Fostoria, Ohio, B.S. political science, surface warfare officer
  • Isaac Pleet, Manassas, B.S. mechanical engineering technology, submarine officer
  • Paul Rankin, Manassas, B.S. computer science, Naval aviator
  • William Sanders, Rahway, New Jersey, B.S. computer science, surface warfare officer
  • Nicholas Shutters, La Plata, Maryland, B.S. political science, Naval aviator
  • Kevin Varnes, Chesapeake, B.S. ocean and earth science, Naval aviator

Eleven were commissioned as 2nd lieutenants in the U.S. Army:

  • Andrew E. Abucewicz, Holliston, Massachusetts, political science, Aviation Corps
  • Trenton Bean, Drumfire, information tech management, Chemical Corps
  • Joshua E. Gonzalez, Summerville, Georgia, criminal justice, Corps of Engineers
  • D'Andre T. Green, Hampton, criminal justice, Military Police Corps
  • Jason A. Hoyle, Williamsburg, communications, Aviation Corps
  • Hannah E. Ingram, Upper Marlboro, Maryland, international studies, Corps of Engineers
  • Aliya Jones, Chesapeake, cyber operations, Signal Corps
  • Dakota J. Kinsey, Yorktown, criminal justice, Ordnance Corps
  • Liam A. McGee, Norfolk, criminal justice, Transportation Corps
  • Thomas Sey, Kumasi, Ghana, health services administration, Old Dominion Quartermaster Corps
  • Jaylord L. R. Toralba, Chesapeake, cyber operations, Signal Corps

Other students who received their commissions:

Norfolk State University


  • Allannah Arcusa, Bowie, Maryland, B.A. political science, surface warfare officer
  • Raymond Beredo, Virginia Beach, B.S. information technology, Naval flight officer
  • Nicholas Hanford-Garcia, West Palm Beach, Florida, B.A. political science, Naval aviator

Hampton University


  • Maria Henson, Santa Rita, Guam, B.S. marine and environmental sciences, Naval flight officer
  • Johneica Yancey, Cordele, Georgia, B.S. nursing, Nurse Corps

2nd Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps

  • Richard Garza, Fort Worth, Texas, B.A. international studies, Marine Corps Ground

Regent University


  • Jacob Cullens, Elizabeth City, North Carolina, B.A. law and national security, surface warfare officer

"Remember this commissioning is just one step, the first step, on a greater journey," said Capt. Michael C. Bratley, commanding officer of Hampton Roads NROTC and professor of Naval science. "Service is hard. It's a tough and unforgiving world where you are each one of a hundred that answered the call to serve your country and become a member of our profession of arms. Remember what we taught you and remember your training. Own it and make us proud."

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