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The Bay State Battalion (BSB) alumni, family, friends, current cadets and other members of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) community, were on hand as the BSB Hall of Honor was unveiled on Saturday, Sept. 28, during Homecoming Weekend.
Eight Remarkable Bay State Battallion Alumni Inducted
To a standing-room-only audience of Bay State Battalion (BSB) alumni, family, friends, current cadets and other members of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) community, the BSB Hall of Honor was unveiled at WPI on Saturday, Sept. 28, during Homecoming Weekend. For the first time in the more than 62-year history of the BSB, Army ROTC alumni and current cadets have a formal Hall of Honor at WPI, where accomplished alumni will be recognized and remembered for all time.
“This ceremony is a fitting tribute to the accomplishments of the officers and their service to our country and to their communities. We are honored to induct them, and are proud to have their image and biography on our Hall of Honor here in Daniels Hall,” said LTC Ciro Stefano, who led more than a year of planning and coordination that has resulted in the integration of more than 60 BSB Army ROTC commissioning classes and the development of the Hall of Honor.
“The intent behind this initiative is to honor and preserve the contributions of Army ROTC graduates, to identify and highlight individuals as role models for current era Cadets, and to educate the greater public on the fine traditions of the Bay State Battalion Army ROTC program, hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute,” Stefano added.
A nomination committee of six BSB alumni select the inductees to be permanently honored on the Hall of Honor monument located in WPI’s Daniels Hall, home to the WPI Army ROTC offices. Inductees must: be a graduate of the Bay State Battalion Army ROTC Program or its affiliate programs; or have been awarded the Medal of Honor, regardless of rank; or attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel or higher while serving on active duty or in the Reserves or the National Guard; and/or have been elected or appointed to an office of prominence in the public or private sector; and/or obtained a position of prominence in the private sector; and/or have been recognized on a national or international level for outstanding achievement or service.
The Hall of Honor inaugural class of honorees includes: Lieutenant General Kevin T. Campbell; Brigadier General James A. Cerrone (Ret.); Major General John DeFreitas III (Ret.); Brigadier General Edward M. Harrington; Lieutenant General David Heebner ’67 (Ret.); Brigadier General Frederick A. Henry; the late Lieutenant Ryan Patrick Jones ’05; Brigadier General Paul Gregory Smith.
Headed by LTC Philip Schoenig (Ret.), the BSB Hall of Honor Committee and alumni welcomed these inductees back to WPI to attend the BSB Army ROTC’s Homecoming Weekend events which began on Friday, September 27, with the BSB Cadet Awards presentations and an alumni-hosted Career Panel. The festivities culminated with the Hall of Honor induction ceremony on Saturday, September 28. With the attendance of active and retired General Officers and the University Presidents of the Colleges of the Worcester Consortium, Fitchburg State University, and the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Homecoming Weekend marked the largest BSB alumni event since its formation in 1951.
David Heebner, who is also a member of the WPI Board of Trustees, expressed gratitude for his ROTC experience and how it enhanced his WPI education.
“A key to success in life is preparation, and that’s what WPI has always been about,” said Heebner. “My experience is like many others. WPI provided me with an exceptional academic experience and, paired with the Army ROTC program, it was the perfect environment for developing leadership and life skills. I still remember today the ROTC officers and noncommissioned officers who served as role models in military skill and leadership and the lessons they taught that have served me so well throughout my military and business careers. While our ROTC Department has been working hard to draw attention to successful graduates, as evidenced by the new WPI Army ROTC Hall of Honor, the real recognition belongs to the ROTC program itself and the dedicated men and women who have had such great impact on so many cadets for so many years.”
Many of the inductees shared Heebner’s sentiments.
“The WPI ROTC program provided me with the tools to succeed. I remain eternally grateful to the cadre who did everything in their power to prepare us for our service,” Campbell said. “I hope that our WPI ROTC cadets realize they have the potential to achieve the goals they set for themselves from the routine to the lofty.”
Smith added, “Without the lessons learned and the role models who guided me at WPI I'm certain that I wouldn't have been able to overcome many of the challenges I've encountered along the way. I'm grateful for the military knowledge I gained at WPI, but I'm even more thankful for the Army values that the WPI cadre instilled in me as a young adult.” He went on to credit a particular role model who could not be at the Hall of Honor induction ceremony. “Master Sergeant Al Drapeau was a man who inspired all of us who were cadets at WPI in the late 1970s.”
“The academic and leadership foundation provided at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and within the ROTC Battalion provide anyone with the skills and confidence to accomplish their dream or overcome any adversity,” noted DeFreitas, a graduate of UMass, Lowell. “The school and ROTC program provide the tools to enable success at any level.”
Other inductees expressed a hope that the Hall of Honor will inspire current cadets to achieve and lead.
“My induction represents more about the cadets, and both military and WPI senior leadership's strong support for this ROTC program. This induction brings back many fond memories of one of my best Army assignments. Those recollections are primarily about the extraordinary Cadets who unselfishly gave the extra time and effort to becoming leaders and to serve their Nation,” said Harrington.
“My hope is that in recognizing achievements of the past, the Hall of Honor will inspire the young men and women of the battalion to a life of service to country, community, and family,” added Cerrone. “I wish them all the best in their endeavors and I am confident their accomplishments will be truly remarkable.”
“Our Army and nation are forever thankful that the pursuit of selfless service is still alive and well at the Bay State Battalion and WPI Army ROTC Program. When the cadets leave the training grounds of the WPI ROTC program, they will become future ambassadors—not only for their university, but for our Army and America,” said Henry.
Elaine and Kevin Jones accepted the honor on behalf of their son, Lt. Ryan Jones, who was killed in action in May 2007. “Both Kevin and I are truly honored that Ryan has been chosen for the Hall of Honor,” Elaine said. “Ryan truly loved WPI and it was his dream to attend the institute and be part of the ROTC, serving his country as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army.” “Proud, humbled and honored is how Ryan would feel, because that is how he lived his life,” she continued. “Proud to serve his country, always very humbled by his various accomplishments, and honored to be in the military serving the United States as an officer in the U.S. Army.”
For their part, current cadets take great pride in the Hall of Honor and the addition of this monument to the WPI campus.
“I can’t even explain how amazing it is knowing that the individuals being inducted into the Hall of Honor are alumni of WPI and the Bay State Battalion,” said Marlisa Cardoso, the cadet battalion commander and a senior biomedical engineering major at WPI. “Their accomplishments are extremely impressive and sometimes it’s hard to believe that they were all in the same position as me once: an ROTC Cadet at WPI. Walking by the Hall of Honor everyday as I head into the ROTC office will give me the drive and motivation to pursue a successful military career and the hope that one day maybe I will be inducted into the Hall of Honor.”
Paul O’Brien, a WPI senior majoring in mechanical engineering, finds the monument a source of motivation amid the challenges and demands of academics and being a cadet. “Having the Hall of Honor visible right outside the office will motivate cadets to embrace those daily challenges. Knowing that those Officers on the wall wholeheartedly accepted similar challenges and were successful will be constant source of motivation for the Bay State Battalion,” O’Brien said.
Matthew DiPinto, also a senior and mechanical engineering major at WPI, agreed. “This monument is proof that cadets—each of us still in college—can reach seemingly impossible heights in our careers in the Army. I believe it will be an excellent motivator throughout the most stressful moments in each cadet’s undergraduate career.”
“The unveiling of the Hall of Honor is a momentous occasion for alumni, friends, and current members of the Bay State Battalion,” added Andrew Gallagher, a senior at WPI majoring in mechanical engineering. “ These individuals who are being inducted into the Hall of Honor demonstrate that they not only had the drive to complete college and successfully commission, but also excelled during their careers as Army Officers. Their drive is inspirational to me and my fellow cadets.”
About Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI is one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. WPI's talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Perspective Program. There are more than 30 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
September 28, 2013