One day before graduating from MTSU, seniors and degree candidates Tommie F. Lane Jr. and Austin J. Blanchard were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.
The 30-minute commissioning ceremony was held Dec. 14 in the Keathley University Center Theater. In addition to MTSU officials and others, both Lane and Blanchard saw more than two-dozen family members and friends attend the ceremony.
“This is the end of a long, hard process working on three years now and it’s the beginning of a life-long career,” said Blanchard, who is from Franklin, Tenn., and who will graduate Saturday, Dec. 15, in Murphy Center with a degree in criminal justice from the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences.
Blanchard was pinned by his parents, Lisa and Jerry Blanchard of Franklin, and his fiancée, Rachel Thompson of Lebanon, Tenn. Austin Blanchard’s uncle, Donald Blanchard, who is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, administered the oath of office.
“This means a lot,” Lane, a Clarksville, Tenn., resident, said of being commissioned. “It represents all the hard work and time I have put in. I’m just thankful and blessed that I was able to see this day and serve my country.”
Lane, who will graduate Saturday with a degree in biochemistry from the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, was pinned by his mother, Julia Lane, and an aunt, Gloristine Player, who retired as an Army major. Lt. Col. Joel Miller administered the oath of office.
Both Blanchard and Lane will be assigned to the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment with the Tennessee Army National Guard.
Miller, the first-year MTSU professor of military science, said both young men have completed academic and ROTC requirements “and have earned the right to serve as leaders in our great Army.”
“Note that I said the right to serve because that is what officership is all about — service to the nation, to our Army and, most importantly, to our soldiers,” Miller added. “With that service and opportunity comes the responsibility for the wise and prudent empowerment of our country’s resources, to include that one irreplaceable resource, the health and welfare of her citizens and soldiers.”
Former professor of military science Lt. Col. T.K. Kast was presented a special plaque by Maj. Brendan McEvoy, commemorating Kast’s three years at MTSU and 30 years with the U.S. Army. He officially retires Dec. 31 from the Army.
MTSU military science is one of 10 departments in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)