Naval ROTC celebrates commissioning of 31 into Navy and Marine Corps

May 22, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Naval Reserve Officer’s Training Corps at Penn State held their virtual commissioning ceremony on May 18 as the unit saw 25 ensigns and six 2nd lieutenants commissioned into the Navy and Marines, respectively.

“Although this ceremony must be held virtually, that in no way diminishes the gravity of what these young men and women are about to undertake,” said Captain Wayne Wall, commanding officer of NROTC at Penn State.

This year’s guest of honor was Vice Admiral Ronald Boxall, U.S. Navy, who graduated from Penn State 36 years ago. He is the director for Force Structure, Resources and Assessment for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Speaking remotely from the Pentagon, Boxall reflected on the international context of his commissioning during the buildup of the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan, in the Cold War and before the breakup of the Soviet Union. He said warfare has changed in his years on active duty, and the new officers of today will see even more changes as threats evolve and sophisticated enemies emerge.

“One thing that did not change from back in 1984 is the oath that you will take in a few moments,” Boxall said. “We are the only nation whose military takes an oath to a piece of paper: to the Constitution. Not to a head of state, not to a king, a ruling party, but to the very foundation on which our country is built. You swear to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.”

New officers were joined by their friends and families at home as they entered the next phases of their lives. After taking their oath, each waited for their name to be called, then friends or family helped to attach their new insignia signifying their rank and formally place on the new officer’s head their cover, or uniform hat.

Each commissioned officer has their orders for the next phase of their military careers, and Boxall said they will need to think of the good of the entire unit under their command.

“Your reputation as an officer who can be trusted starts today,” he said.

The Penn State Naval ROTC Alumni Interest Group provided the lieutenant junior grade and first lieutenant insignia for all newly commissioned officers.

NROTC is a part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at


Last Updated June 03, 2020