In celebration of their 60 years of commitment to excellence, the Florida A&M University’s Army ROTC will host a variety of events this weekend, including a black-tie-gala tonight at 6 p.m. at the Silver Slipper restaurant.
The Brigadier General Arnold Neil Gordon-Bray, Deputy Commanding General of Cadet Command, will be the keynote speaker of the gala.
Gordon-Bray, was awarded the bronze star among other awards, and was commissioned to the infantry as a Distinguished Military Student through the ROTC program at Central Missouri State University in 1978.
The gala is one of many events the FAMU Army ROTC has planned for their anniversary, which they celebrate from Oct. 2 through Oct. 4.
Other activities include a wreath laying, military display, brick laying ceremony and a meet and greet barbeque.
Master Sergeant and Senior Enlisted Military Science Instructor Terrance Milton, said the purpose of many of the scheduled events is to honor fallen comrades, among other things.
“The gala gives the alumni, cadets and community leaders a chance to reflect where the program has come from, and where it is going,” Milton said. “What sets the FAMU Army ROTC apart from others is the rich history that it has. We’re one of the few HBCU’s that can brag we’ve had at least five FAMU alumnus reach general officer rank.”
The FAMU Army ROTC unit was established in 1948 under the first professor of Military Science and Tactics, Major Clarence Davenport, Jr.
Since then FAMU Army ROTC graduates have served their country through participation in events such as the Korean Conflict and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
More than 1,200 officers have been commissioned through this program, including five general officers and one former Secretary of Defense cabinet official.
While she is not a part of the FAMU Army ROTC program, Aylin McGinnis, 19, said she appreciates the celebration because someone very close to her was.
“My dad graduated from the ROTC program here, and is currently on active duty as a colonel in the Army over in Germany,” said McGinnis, a second-year accounting student from Kaiserslautern, Germany. “He’s served since 1985 when he graduated.”
McGinnis’ father, Col. James McGinnis, Jr., said FAMU has “produced some of the finest leaders over the past 60 years from its outstanding ROTC program.”
“The training I received along with the outstanding mentorship, fellowship and education provided me with the tools necessary to be an outstanding soldier, leader and officer that I am today,” McGinnis said.
Many participants and graduates of the FAMU Army ROTC find the 60th year anniversary significant, Rontel Batie, 20, a member of the Army ROTC, believes the anniversary should be viewed as commemorative, even to those outside of the program.
“Its 60 years that commemorates service to all mankind,” said Batie, a second-year political science student from St. Augustine, Fla. “It commemorates the spirit of the warriors from the past who made the final sacrifice, and it acknowledges the present leaders who are enhancing their skills in the science of warfare and the art of leadership.”
Batie, who one day hopes to obtain the rank of four star general in the Army, said he has learned leadership skills, honor and integrity.
“I’ve learned to stand firm for a greater cause than myself,” Batie said. “Also, to do what is right in public, but most importantly behind closed doors.”
Batie also expressed his visions of the FAMU Army ROTC program 60 years from now.
“I hope to see it enlarge,” Batie said. “I hope to see more men and women sacrifice for a greater cause.”
Tickets for the gala are $30 and can be purchased online at https://secure.qgiv.com/cps_donors/index.php?key=famu