Joint Commissioning Ceremony Sees 22 Cadets Sworn In as Officers in Army, Air Force

New 2nd lieutenants will go into a range of military specialty fields
June 01, 2021

Twenty-two newly minted military officers were advised to remain humble, listen to their subordinates, and adhere to their core values as they embark on their military careers, during WPI’s Joint Commissioning Ceremony held May 21.

Some 16 Army ROTC cadets and six Air Force cadets from WPI, Assumption University, Becker College, College of the Holy Cross, Fitchburg State University, and UMass-Lowell were sworn in as second lieutenants by Brig. Gen. James Bienlien, Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, and Senior Commander, Natick Soldier Systems Center. Bienlien presided as commissioning officer, administering the oath of office and delivering the keynote remarks during the ceremony held on the campus quadrangle.

“Not only are you about to graduate from some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges and universities, you are also about to become commissioned officers in the United States Army, Air Force and Space Force,” he told the cadets minutes before they took their oath. “I congratulate you on a job well done and welcome you into the profession of arms.


“With the pinning of 2nd lieutenant bars on your shoulders, you will be charged with one of the greatest responsibilities bestowed upon an individual: you will be expected to lead the nation’s sons and daughters with distinction and make tough decisions that will directly impact their lives. Carry that charter with pride. Listen to your [non-commissioned officers]. Don’t forget where you came from. Be humble. Remember, they are the ones who will ultimately make you successful.”

Bienlien thanked President Laurie Leshin for the university’s support of ROTC, and commended U.S. Army Lt. Col. Adam Heppe, head of Military Science and leader of the Army ROTC Bay State Battalion, and Air Force Lt. Col. Jack Skiles III, commander of Air Force ROTC Detachment 340, for preparing the cadets for military service.

Heppe cited the partnership between Army ROTC and the Natick Soldier Systems Center, which has resulted in seven internships and four Major Qualifying Projects (MQP). “The collaboration between our research institution and the Army research labs is highlighted by the prospect of future military leaders working on future military problems,” he said. “We are extremely appreciative and proud of our partnership.”

Prior to accepting their commission certificates and exchanging First Salutes, Bienlien had the cadets post on the grass in front of the stage, where friends and family members greeted them and pinned the gold 2nd lieutenant bars on their uniforms. Then as their names were called, the new officers individually crossed the stage, bumping elbows with President Leshin and saluting Bienlien, Heppe, and Skiles before crossing the stage to exchange their ceremonial First Salute.

The tradition of the First Salute dates back to the 19th Century British army, when newly commissioned second lieutenants would present a silver dollar to the first enlisted soldier who saluted them. During the Joint Commissioning ceremony most of the newly commissioned officers exchanged their first salutes with staff members of their respective ROTC units, while some exchanged salutes with friends of family members either serving with or retired from branches of the military.

The new 2nd lieutenants, their hometowns, institutions, and military assignments:

Air Force

Ian Casicola, Lake Worth, Fla., WPI, Electrical Engineer

Neal Keklik Trumbull, Conn., WPI, Astronautical Engineering Officer

Nicholas Kenny, Fitchburg, Mass., WPI, Mechanical Engineering Officer

Zackary Fitzgibbon, Sturbridge, Mass., WPI, Cyberspace Operations Officer

Mackenzie Warren, Berkley, Mass., WPI, Aerospace Engineering Space Operations

William Schwend, Bristol, Conn., WPI, Aerospace Engineering Space Operations



Johann Bradley, Slidell, La., WPI, Military Intelligence Branch

Thomas Feraco, Holden Mass., WPI, Engineer Branch.

Ella Forbes, Casco, Me., WPI, Engineer Branch

Alex Lima, Monson, Mass. Fitchburg State University, Infantry Branch

Evan Mackie, Yokosuka, Japan, WPI, Branch Detail Explosive Ordnance Disposal

Aaron McCutcheon, Smithfield, R.I., WPI, Adjutant General

Alexander Pratt, Hopkinton, Mass., WPI, Military Intelligence, Branch Detail Chemical Corps

Isaac Stilwell, Hopkinton, Mass., WPI, Infantry Branch

Spencer Tess, Littleton, Mass., WPI, Engineer Branch

Jacob Vanscoy, Lake Worth, Fla., WPI, Engineer Branch

Ryan Camille, Smithtown, N.Y., College of the Holy Cross, Infantry Branch

Nicholas Coughlin, Tyngsboro, Mass., UMass-Lowell, Quartermaster Branch

John Goldthrite, Abilene, Texas, Fitchburg State University, Military Intelligence Branch Detail Armor

Josef Livingstone, Andover, Mass., UMass-Lowell, Military Intelligence Branch

Samuel Majewski, Brimfield, Mass., Becker College, Adjutant General

Marc Torres, Worcester, Mass., Assumption University, Infantry Branch

A video of the ceremony can be viewed here.

–Martin Luttrell