JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – Hampton University’s Army ROTC commissioning ceremony hosted by Gen. Paul E. Funk, II, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, commanding general, was more than just the first in-person commissioning for the Pirate Battalion since 2019; it was historic.
Held at Jacobs Theatre on Fort Eustis, the battalion celebrated 15 cadets during the event, including the program’s first two female armor officers; 2nd Lts. Maricha Hester and Alexis Ibarra-Bautista.
Funk, who also commissioned as an armor officer through the Montana State University Army ROTC program, explained the newly commissioned officers will, “lead the best tank force in the history of the world.”
Before the cadets were pinned, Funk spoke on the importance of diversity in the Army.
“Our Army’s true strength lies in our diversity; diversity of culture, diversity of experience, and as demonstrated by the variety of branches represented here today, diversity of opportunities,” Funk said.
The other branches represented by the cadets included signal corps, transportation corps, infantry, quartermaster corps, Army nurse corps, ordnance corps, adjutant general corps.
"These 15 cadets have demonstrated that they have what it takes to become commissioned officers in the United States Army, and to earn our trust to lead the sons and daughters of our great nation," said Lt. Col. Marquis, Hampton University Professor of Military Science.
HU’s ROTC program, founded in 1916, has worked to develop students academically, mentally, and physically to become the future leaders.
One of those leaders is retired Lt. Gen. Darrell K. Williams, a distinguished military graduate of the Hampton Institute ROTC Program in 1983.
Williams attended the ceremony in his newest capacity as the 2022 president-elect, succeeding longtime President William R. Harvey.
During his opening comments, Funk told a story from the beginning of his career as a Soldier, which connected him and the university’s soon-to-be president first as friends and then as Army leaders.
“In 1985 when I was at Fort Knox, Ky., myself and another officer met in our Junior Officer Maintenance Course where we did a brake job on my dad’s van as our project for the course. That officer and I became lifelong friends. That officer is Darrell Williams,” Funk said.
Events such as this commissioning ceremony are instrumental in building on the solid foundation that exists between the Army, universities, and communities.