A dozen new Army officers celebrated the beginnings of their military careers Friday.
Members of the Southern Guards Battalion, headquartered at Wofford College, were commissioned as 2nd lieutenants before friends and family at Leonard Auditorium on campus.
Lt. Col. Paul "Buck" Bollinger said he "couldn't say enough" about the young men and women, part of 21 new officers expected to join the military this year.
Bollinger, who commands the battalion of approximately 82 cadets from Wofford, Converse College, Limestone College and the University of South Carolina Upstate, said it was the largest class of new officers from the battalion in more than a dozen years.
He said he was anxious to see what was next for the young officers.
"I like to kick them out the door and let them go do great things," he said. The new lieutenants, wearing dress blues, were given the oath of office inside the auditorium, then went out onto the steps of Wofford's Main Building to receive their first salutes.
One new officer, 2nd Lt. Tralisha Ruth Corbitt of Bamberg, graduated from USC Upstate last week and plans to go into military intelligence.
"It's a great opportunity to learn and grow," she said of her Army career just getting under way. "It's a very enlightening feeling. Four years of long, hard work has paid off."
During the ceremony, the then-cadets heard from Col. James R. Hall, Wofford director of campus safety and the emergency preparedness liaison officer for the state of South Carolina. Hall graduated from Wofford in 1983 and said the cadets were "phenomenal" and the ceremony was a very significant moment in their lives. "I remember everything about it but the guy who spoke," Hall said of his own ceremony. "I forgive you for forgetting me in a few minutes."
Hall said the new officers would be better prepared than he was when he nervously took the oath of office and urged them to remember their values and work hard.
"Learn everything you can to be an expert of your field," he said.
Hall was also marking the end of his Army career, nearly 30-years to the day of where it began when he, too, was commissioned an officer in Leonard Auditorium. Lt. Col. Christopher Meetze of the South Carolina National Guard also addressed the then-cadets.
He thanked them and their families for their hard work.
"You have taught your children how to make the tough decisions that will determine their success," Meetze told the families, adding for the cadets: "Be proud of those lieutenant bars and remember how hard it was you worked to earn them."
The new officers included students from both Wofford College and USC Upstate. Jeremy Boeh, a Wofford senior, will graduate on Sunday. He previously served as an enlisted soldier in the Army for six years and served two combat tours in Iraq before coming to Wofford in 2011 as part of an Army program that sends enlisted soldiers to college to become officers.
Another new officer is Keith Acosta, who graduated from USC Upstate. Prior to college, he served in the Marine Corps. Linda Conley