Welcoming the New Cadets and Honoring our Fallen

The Atlanta Citadel Club hosted the annual Cadet send off event June 13. The dinner is the best attended event each year and usually features an address from an administrator on campus.

L-R Cadet Luke Cathy, '14; Tyler Smith, '13; Mike Rogers, CAA; Collin Hicks, '14 Regimental Commander; Michael Escoe, VP, ACC; Col. Leo Mercado, Commandant of Cadets; Col. Joseph Trez, Director Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics.

L-R Cadet Luke Cathy, ’14; Tyler Smith, ’13; Mike Rogers, CAA; Collin Hicks, ’14 Regimental Commander; Michael Escoe, VP, ACC; Col. Leo Mercado, Commandant of Cadets; Col. Joseph Trez, Director Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics.

A few months ago I joined the club as an affiliate member. Due to travel schedules the leadership of the club asked me and the current chair of the Georgia Citadel Parents Group to help with registration. It was a terrific way to meet everyone as they arrived.

I looked forward to this event each year. I am still in touch with the family I met when I arrived at the send off event before my son began his knob year. As part of the tradition, I take a group photo of the knobs in attendance. See the video the Citadel Alumni Association compiled of the evening.

The Citadel Class of 2017 incoming cadets from Georgia

The Citadel Class of 2017 incoming cadets from Georgia

This year I requested a few minutes on the agenda to ask for support for the homecoming needs of my son’s battalion. Then something really neat happened. I heard from the college roommate of Sgt. Aaron Wittman, a Citadel grad and the fallen soldier from the 3-69. I attended Aaron’s burial in February at Arlington National Cemetery.

A few months ago I read about the foundation set up by his classmates in Aaron’s name. I bought a t-shirt that was made for participants to wear in memory of Aaron during the Cooper River Bridge run. At the time I offered to help get the word out to Citadel parents about Aaron and his Foundation.

Aaron and his parents have been in my prayers since I received word of his death early this year. We have never met, but I felt connected to them once I learned of their connection to The Citadel and because our sons served in the same battalion together. I wanted to write to them, but I never did. That changed the week of the ACC dinner.

Robby Jackson, Aaron’s good friend and classmate emailed me before the dinner. He asked if I would help get the word out to current parents about the Aaron Wittman Foundation. He told me that Aaron’s parents had donated Aaron’s ring to the Band of Gold program administered by the Citadel Alumni Association. His ring will be melted down and be part of the ring the Class of 2014 will receive this Fall. Robby then put me in touch with Duane Wittman, Aaron’s father, so I could learn more about the scholarship fund the foundation will support.

SGT. Aaron X. WIttman photo used with permission Aaron Wittman Foundation

SGT. Aaron X. WIttman
photo used with permission Aaron Wittman Foundation

I was so happy to finally be in touch with this family whom I’ve prayed for. During my recent visit to Fort Stewart my daughter and I took time to stop at the Warrior’s Walk where trees are planted in memory of the Ft. Stewart soldiers who were killed. We went to pay our respects to Aaron and to Rex Schad another 3-69 soldier who gave his life for our freedom. It was an honor to be able to share the photo I took of Aaron’s tree with Duane.

Aaron’s father Duane sent me the following information about the foundation:

First, the Aaron Wittman “07” Scholarship Fund was the wonderful idea and effort of Aaron’s classmates.

The Wittman’s agreed that a Memorial Scholarship was the best way to honor Aaron and his selfless sacrifice and teamed up with his Citadel Classmates to create the Aaron X Wittman Memorial Scholarship.  The Scholarship Operating Board consisting of Aaron’s classmates and the Wittman Family signed the official MOU with The Citadel Foundation on 5 April 2013. 

To date, the endowment level was achieved by 1 June with $52K + on hand and the jump start scholarship dollars are available and will be awarded this year. 

We should reach our goal of  $100k by 31 Dec 2013 and a life-long goal of $250k.

The Goal of the Scholarship is to provide a rising Sophomore Cadet financial support for three years/graduation. 

 Selection criteria:

·         Financial Need is First Priority

·         Achieve 2.0 GPA for Freshman Year

·         Must maintain a 2.5 GPA to maintain Scholarship after award

·         Member of National Guard (desired but not required)

·         Prefer a Cadet who desires a future in the Armed Forces. 

If you would like to support this effort please visit the website: SGT. Aaron X. Wittman, ’07, Scholarship Fund

This video is a great overview of the foundation. The Birth of the Aaron Wittman Foundation

You can also join the Aaron Wittman Foundation Facebook page to receive regular updates.

SGT. Aaron Wittman's tree on Warrior's Walk at Fort Stewart.

SGT. Aaron Wittman’s tree on Warrior’s Walk at Fort Stewart.

 

My daughter takes a few moments to reflect.  Warrior's Walk, Fort Stewart.

My daughter takes a few moments to reflect.
Warrior’s Walk, Fort Stewart.

 

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One Response

  1. […] Welcoming the New Cadets and Honoring our Fallen […]

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