<span lang=”en”>Reporting by WVUA 23 Reporter Andrea Matei</span>

<span lang=”en”>WVUA 23 viewers may remember Cameron Crowe. He was a reporter for the TV station while he worked to get his journalism degree. But, he’s done with school now and is ready for the next chapter in his life. </span>

<span lang=”en”>It’s graduation season here at the University of Alabama, and while all the graduates are excited to put on their caps and gowns and get their diploma, there is a small group of students who are going to be leaving with more than that – they are going to be leaving with their lieutenant bars.</span>

<span lang=”en”>In a special ceremony on May 3, 17 ROTC cadets got commissioned to become second lieutenants, and Crowe was one of them.</span>

“I’m a fourth-generation Army in my family, and my thought was always that I wanted to,” Crowe said. “Every single meal that has ever been provided to me, it was given to me by the United States Army and I wanted to give back to that.”

While the 167 cadets in the ROTC program are just regular students on campus, they also go through physical and tactical training. During their junior year, they go to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for their certification, and their senior years they spend building their leadership skills.

“The program, in general, means a lot to me,” Crowe said. “It’s brought a lot of stress to me, but also, it’s brought out leadership capabilities that I never thought I ever had.”

This hard training is, of course, preparing them for a hard job, but becoming second lieutenants out of college puts them ahead of the game.

“They immediately walk into the role of being leaders,” Lt. Col. Antwan <span style=”font-size: 14px;”>Brown, a professor of military science at UA, said. “They walk into the role of being in charge of a lot of people, they walk into the role that at a moment’s notice, they could be called to deploy and lead soldiers into combat. So, it’s a very important role that they’re taking. </span>

<span lang=”en”>All of the new second lieutenants will go on to get further training at one of the 17 branches that they chose.  Crowe is heading to Virginia for his transportation officer training, but he’ll definitely be back on TV as well. </span>

<span lang=”en”> “On the civilian side, I want to be a broadcast journalist,” Crowe said. “That’s what I studied for. That’s what my degree’s in. But as far as my military career is concerned, I want to go and be the best officer I can be, the best leader I can be. I want to come in and be able to give leadership when needed, but also, you know, be an example for younger soldiers within my unit.”</span>

<span lang=”en”>Brown said Crowe stood out from this group, and he recalled the time the brigade commander in charge of 39 ROTC programs in the southeast came to visit the Capstone.</span>

<span lang=”en”>“Cameron gave him a tour of the campus and the commander was so impressed by him, by his presentation, by how knowledgeable he was on the campus, and by how well he presented himself that the commander actually presented him with a coin of excellence at the time,” Brown said.</span>

<span style=”font-size: 14px;”> At the commissioning, each cadet had family and friends pin on their bars and share the moment, as is tradition, they also chose someone to give them their first salute and give them a silver dollar.</span>

“This is probably the most special day for them throughout their career because this is the beginning,” Brown said. “You know, after this they’ll get promoted. Those are going to be great days, you know, memorable days, but nothing is like the day you pin on the bars because you worked so hard, it seemed like it was so far away and like it was never going to happen, and you really didn’t have a concept of what it meant to be an officer, and then it just finally happened. So this is a chapter change in their life. And so, I think each and every last one of them will remember this forever.”

And for Crowe, the ceremony was one he’ll never forget.

“It was obviously very special to me to be able to have my family here,” Crowe said. “My dad’s retired Army, and a very close family friend of mine, Doug Pritchett, to give me my first salute. It really was a very emotional experience for all of us. I thought I was going to cry happy tears. I wound up actually just being happy. It was just very great and awesome and to be here, it felt like three years ago I’d never be here, and now here’s the culmination. It’s like the trophy.”

Just like other experiences, it’s the people that make it special.

“All the cadets that I went through and got to know,” Crowe said. “Some very close friends that I’m definitely going to be following their careers and they’re going to be following mine, hopefully. When we come back to Tuscaloosa one day to see our kids commissioned, maybe we’ll run into each other. So that’s my hope.”

Crowe’s hope and service to his country is the spirit of Alabama.

<p><em>If you have a story you would like to see featured in our Spirit of Alabama report, email us at spiritofalabama@wvua23.com.</em></p>

Categories: Local News, Spirit of Alabama