PC’s Army ROTC Highlander Battalion held its annual commissioning ceremony in Edmunds Hall on May 10.
In addition to the commissioning ceremony, the event included the PC ROTC Hall of Fame induction and presentations of the Wysor Saber Award, the George C. Marshall Award, and the Captain Kimberly Hampton Leadership Award, among others.
Yiasha Edwards was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army and also walked away with the Highlander Battalion’s most prestigious award: the Wysor Saber. The Wysor Saber is presented to the senior Highlander Battalion cadet who has contributed the most to the ROTC program throughout the academic year. The award represents outstanding leadership, teamwork, and commitment to a life of service. Edwards, a psychology major from Blythewood, SC, will serve in the Transportation unit of the National Guard.
Two other PC students also received awards during the day.
Thomas Goodson, a rising senior from Jacksonville, NC, received the Kimberly Hampton Leadership Award. Named in honor of a former PC student who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004, the Kimberly Hampton Leadership Award is presented to the junior Highlander Battalion cadet who personifies hard work, courage, leadership, and honor for school and country.
Gabrielle Lesieur, a rising junior from Evans, Georgia, won the Military Order of the Purple Heart, which recognizes a Highlander Battalion cadet who displays a positive attitude toward the ROTC and to country, holds a leadership post in the ROTC, is active in school and community, and possesses a 3.0 GPR or higher.
Lesieur also received the Spirit of the Claymore award, which recognizes the cadet with the highest PT average for the entire academic year.
Mark Bloniarz, who serves in the Highlander Battalion as a Newberry College student, received the George C. Marshall Award, named in honor of the 1953 Nobel Peace Prize Award winner who served as Chief of Staff during WWII.
ROTC Hall of Fame inductee
Retired Brigadier General Herman (Butch) Kirven, Jr. is this year’s inductee into the Presbyterian College ROTC Hall of Fame. In 1969, Kirven graduated from PC and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army.
Following graduation from the US Army Defense Artillery Officer Basic Course at Fort Bliss, Texas, Kirven was assigned as a Platoon Leader. In 1975 he was promoted to Captain and assigned as Commander of Delta Battery, second Battalion, 263rd Air Defense Artillery in Anderson, SC.
After serving in many battalion staff positions from 1979 to 1984, Kirven graduated from the ADA Officer Advance Course and Command and General Staff College and was promoted to Major in 1984.
He was promoted to Colonel in 1995 and briefly represented the South Carolina Army National Guard in Albania under the “Partnership for Peace” initiative. When he returned, he was assigned as Deputy Commander of the 263rd Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
Kirven attended the US Army War College in 1996 and was tasked with the conversion of the 263rd ADA Brigade into the 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, a theater-level, air defense operational headquarters. This was the first such organization fielded by the Army National Guard of which Kirven was the first Chief of Staff and promoted to Brigadier General in 2000.
Kirven retired from service in 2003. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal with silver oak leaf, War on Terrorism Service Medal, Reserve Forces Commendation Medal with “M” device, and the South Carolina Meritorious Service Medal.
Kirven currently serves as chairman of the Special Building Committee of the National Guard Association of the United States charged with overseeing the National Guard Memorial Building in Washington, DC. Kirven is a certified general real estate appraiser, maintaining a real estate appraisal and consulting office in Simpsonville, SC. He is married to the former Dianne Adams, also a PC graduate. They have one daughter, Lee.
Command Sergeant Major Stephan Frennier, this year’s Distinguished Commissioning Speaker, joined the US Army as an 11H Anti-Armor Infantryman from Fort Ord, California in 1980. During his military career he has served the country valiantly, including as the CSM for the US Forces in Iraq.
Some of Frennier’s military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal 6th award, Army Achievement Medal 10th award, and the Iraq Campaign Medal with four Campaign Stars.
Frennier spoke to the newly commissioned second lieutenants about leadership during his address.
“A good leader is a person who puts the welfare of their soldiers above their own, enforces standards and discipline, sets the example in fitness, and leads from the front,” Frennier said.
He went on to elaborate that a leader is always positive and lives the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal character. In addition, Frennier says that good leaders set the example in everything they do on and off duty, take care of their family and those of soldiers, know their craft, and always strive to learn more.
“There are two reasons why soldiers follow their leaders. One is because they have to, due to the Oath of Enlistment,” Frennier said. “The other reason is that they want to. Soldiers follow that leader because they’re there to take care of them.”