Army ROTC students from across the Lehigh Valley culminated four years of hard work at a commissioning ceremony at Packer Memorial Chapel last weekend.
One by one, cadets from Lehigh University and other area colleges marched to the front of the chapel, raised their right hands, took the oath of office, and officially became lieutenants before their friends and family.
ROTC—the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps—is a college-based program for training commissioned officers of the United States armed forces. The Lehigh Steel Battalion
was established at Lehigh University in 1919 and is open to students who are enrolled at 12 other colleges and universities in the Lehigh Valley.
Lehigh President Alice P. Gast addressed the Lehigh Steel Battalion cadets before their promotion to lieutenant at the ceremony on Sunday, May 19.
“In a few minutes, you will become a symbol of America’s army and an inspiration to soldiers and citizens alike all over the world,” Gast said. “I know you will approach all that lies ahead with the same dedication and determination that you displayed in ROTC.”A Lehigh ROTC tradition
For one of the newly commissioned officers, Daniel K. Bayer III ’13, the commissioning ceremony was a particularly noteworthy occasion.
Bayer comes from a long line of Lehigh ROTC graduates, including his father, Daniel K. Bayer Jr. ’83; his mother, Paula Thoden Bayer ’84; his great-grandfather, Curtis F. Bayer ’35; and his great-uncle, Thomas Bayer ’63. His grandfather, retired Col. Richard M. Thoden Jr. ’68G, was a professor of aerospace studies with Lehigh’s Air Force ROTC program in the 1960s.
Bayer said he was proud of his Lehigh heritage, especially as he received his commission on Sunday.
“Looking into the crowd and seeing my parents, grandparents and sister gave me a great sense of pride and accomplishment because I know how proud they are of me becoming a United States officer and continuing the family tradition of doing this through Lehigh University,” said Bayer, who earned a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management and was commissioned to the U.S. Army Reserve in Chambersburg, Pa.
Bayer’s cousin, Maj. Gen. Peter C. Bayer Jr. ’84, delivered the commissioning address at the ceremony.
“His military career and dedication as a leader are things I look up to,” Bayer said. “It meant a lot to me that he administered my oath of office.”A lifetime of learning
In his address, Maj. Gen. Bayer stressed the importance of lifelong learning, a theme that was echoed throughout the day’s events.
“Never stop learning and growing,” said Bayer, who serves as Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategic Plans and Policy at Headquarters, Supreme Allied Command-Transformation, in the U.S. Army. “We live in a world that changes all the time. You can never be satisfied that you know all you need to know about your profession, about people and about life.”
Gast told students that the ceremony didn’t mark the end of their education.
“You will need to sharpen your leadership skills continuously,” Gast said. “You must be prepared to embrace new challenges and set out to be lifelong learners.”
Lt. Col. Erik Hilberg, chair of the department of military science and leadership, echoed the comments of Bayer and Gast.
“Cadets learn how
to think, not what
to think,” Hilberg said. In fact, during their senior year, cadets run the program with advisement from officers and professors.
“At that point, there’s no checklist for them to follow anymore,” Hilberg said. “They have to figure out how to solve problems on their own—and that’s exactly what the Army is looking for.”Photos by Theo Anderson