WPI Senior Timothy Grupp Honored as Top Air Force ROTC Cadet in the Northeast

Air Force commander calls him a “Renaissance Man” for his varied interests; Grupp was also a Rhodes Scholar nominee
November 25, 2013

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Timothy Grupp, a senior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), has received the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement, which recognizes him as the top Air Force ROTC cadet in the Northeast among those nominated for the award.

“This is an incredible honor,” said Grupp, 21, a resident of Highland Mills, N.Y., who is majoring in mechanical engineering with a concentration in astronautics. “My parents have always taught me to do what I love and to do it to the best of my ability. This recognition is truly humbling.”

There are about 3,500 cadets from 37 detachments in the region, but every detachment is not required to nominate a cadet for the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross.

The Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement recognizes one outstanding cadet in each Air Force ROTC region in the United States who has demonstrated excellence in military and academic performance. As a recipient of the award, Grupp is now considered for the Olmsted Scholar program, which seeks to “…educate those young career military line officers who exhibit extraordinary potential for becoming this country’s future military leaders,” according to the organization.

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Lt. Col. Michael L. DeRosa, commander of Detachment 340 Air Force ROTC at WPI, commended Grupp for his varied abilities and accomplishments. In addition to his military service, Grupp is also a four-year starter on the WPI football team, an accomplished pilot, a fraternity member, and a member of the WPI Glee Club.

“Cadet Grupp is a Renaissance man who has demonstrated leadership in academics, athletics, and in his professional aerospace studies,” said Lt. Col. DeRosa. “If past performance is an indicator of future potential, I expect great things from the future Second Lieutenant Tim Grupp.”

Earlier this fall, Grupp—an offensive lineman on the WPI football team—was a nominee for the 2013 National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Awards and a semifinalist for the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy. The Campbell award recognizes an individual as the best scholar-athlete in the nation.

Grupp has secured other achievements while at WPI. Last spring, he received the Two Towers Prize, given annually to the top junior at WPI who best exemplifies a combined proficiency in the theoretical and practical union that is at the heart of the WPI educational tradition.

WPI professor Peter Hansen, who attended the Two Towers award ceremony, was so impressed with Grupp that he nominated him for a Rhodes Scholarship. “WPI nominated Tim Grupp for the Rhodes Scholarship for his outstanding leadership in the Air Force ROTC and on the WPI football team, and for his group project in Namibia,” said Hansen, associate professor of humanities and arts. “His exemplary work ethic in academics, athletics, and other activities has been truly impressive.”

In June, Grupp started working on his Rhodes Scholar application package, which included a 1,000-word personal essay, an extensive activities list, and letters of recommendation from professors and outside sources. Although he learned recently that he did not secure an interview with Rhodes Scholarship leaders, he is not looking back. Upon graduation next spring, he hopes to join the Air Force as a space operations officer in Guam, Germany, or Hawaii.

Grupp, the youngest of five children of Jim and Kathy Grupp, comes from a family with a decided military background. His father served at the Air Force Academy for 28 years; sisters Beth and Jessica have careers at the Coast Guard Academy and in Navy, respectively; and brother Jason is an Air Force pilot. His oldest sibling, Chris, is an insurance agent in New York City.

Grupp, a licensed pilot, often takes his teammates out flying in a single-engine Cessna 172. Flying, he said, gives him perspective and a chance to think about his future.

He said his experience at WPI has shaped him into the person he is today. “WPI gave me the ability to be an engineer while playing football, serving in a fraternity, and being in the ROTC,” said Grupp. “It’s been an incredible experience.”