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NROTC grads become commissioned officers

Largest Marine Corps class in recent memory

On Monday afternoon, 25 new graduates of Boston University handed 25 silver dollars to enlisted members of the military, with the understanding that the coins may be just on loan.

The students, along with seven from Boston College and one from Northeastern, were members of the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps throughout college, and the day after Commencement they were commissioned as Marine Corps and Navy officers. As part of the ceremony, each new officer is saluted by an enlisted person and in returning the salute, gives the enlisted person a silver dollar.

“That was about a week’s pay for a sailor, way back when,” says Captain Robert Holland, commanding officer of the Boston Navy ROTC consortium. “It’s to remind them that the enlisted folks are going to train them in the future, and should those ensigns ever make flag rank” — such as admiral — “the enlisted person will give that silver dollar back.”

The commissioning ceremony had been scheduled to take place at the Charlestown Navy Yard, aboard the U.S.S. Constitution, but foul weather forced a move to the Coast Guard Station in Boston’s North End. “We didn’t want, halfway through, to yell, ‘Abandon ship, women and children first,’” says Holland.

Lt. General Jan C. Huly, a three-star general and the deputy commandant for plans, policies, and operations at U.S. Marine Corps headquarters, was a guest speaker at the ceremony, and Rev. James J. Olson, associate dean of Marsh Chapel, gave the benediction.

The new officers repeat an oath of office, receive a presidential certificate of appointment, and have shoulder boards (for Navy officers) or gold bars (for Marines) pinned to their uniforms by parents, spouses, or significant others.

The Navy officers, who were commissioned as ensigns, will either report to their ships or begin submarine or flight school this summer; the Marine Corps officers, commissioned as second lieutenants, will report to the Basic School at Quantico, Va., for six months of training. Holland says that this year’s class is the largest group of commissioning Marines in recent memory. “They’re very positive about service to their country,” he says.

Patrick Daly (CAS’06), who was commissioned as a second lieutenant, says that he hasn’t yet adjusted to his new rank and status. “We’re wearing the uniform, we have the bars on, but until we actually report, it’s not going to hit,” he says. “We’ve been training for this over the past four years, but I don’t think you feel the weight of responsibility until you start leading Marines.”