REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Military officers of the past and present gathered Nov. 30 to honor
their counterparts of the future.

They recognized five ROTC cadets from Alabama A&M University and the University of Alabama-Huntsville who will become commissioned officers this week. The A&M/UAH ROTC gold bar award ceremony was part of the monthly luncheon of the Military Officers Association of America, Huntsville Chapter, held at the Officers and Civilians Club.

"You are about to embark on an incredible adventure," Garrison commander Col. John Hamilton told the cadets.

Hamilton was commissioned as a second lieutenant more than 20 years ago when he graduated from the ROTC program at Florida State.

There is no set blueprint for an Army officer's career, he said. "Each of you is going to walk a particular path." He offered the cadets the following advice:

* First of all you have to be a good Soldier. "Before you can ever be a good officer, you have to be a good Soldier. Don't ever forget that," Hamilton said.

* You will be responsible for the organization that you lead. "You are responsible for everything that organization does or fails to do," Hamilton said.

* Develop your communication skills. "Work on your communication skills. It will be one of the most important things that you do," Hamilton said.

* Seek the hardest jobs you can find and "when you have it embrace it," he advised.
The colonel told the cadets their choice of careers is worthy and they will help defend this nation's liberties.

"I thank you for the service you've already put in as cadets and the service you're about to embark on," he said. "It's going to be a real honor to serve with you in our Army."

The cadets included Coleman Erwin of UAH, Army Nurse Corps; Sarah Knapp of UAH, Chaplain Corps; Dalkeith Mullings of Alabama A&M, Infantry; Avery Watson of Alabama A&M, Army National Guard; and Anna White of UAH, Military Intelligence Corps.

Watson, 22, from Watertown, N.Y., will receive his commission Thursday and graduate Friday from Alabama A&M with a bachelor's in biology. He plans to enter the Army medical service.

"It's going to shape me as a leader," Watson said of entering the Army, "give me a great foundation and hopefully pay for medical school."

White will receive her commission Thursday and graduate from UAH on Saturday with a bachelor's in psychology.

"I'm pumped," she said of entering the Army. "It's something I always wanted to do, follow my dad's footsteps."

The luncheon's 54 attendees included 21 guests and 33 members of the chapter.