Annual ROTC Ceremony Salutes Military Service

Annual ROTC Ceremony Salutes Military Service

Three PC students were among the officers commissioned into the U.S. Army during the annual Army ROTC Commissioning and Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday, May 14 in Edmunds Hall. In addition, two alumni were inducted into PC’s ROTC Hall of Fame during the event.

Officers Commissioned into the U.S. Army

Three PC students and members of the Highlander Battalion were commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Army. The second lieutenants, along with their military branches, include:

  • Jordan Bryon, Military Police, Active Duty
  • Dominiq Jones, Military Intelligence, Active Duty
  • Caleb Simpson, Military Intelligence (BD-Chemical), Active Duty

Hall of Fame Members Inducted 

Col. (Ret.) John Dowdle ’81, the 2021 Hall of Fame inductee

Col. (Ret.) John Dowdle ’81 is the 2021 ROTC Hall of Fame inductee. 

Dowdle served as a United States Army Special Forces Officer for 15 years.

His tenure included serving as an officer in the US Army and in the Alabama Army National Guard from 1981 to 2000.

Dowdle offered the new lieutenants advice during his Hall of Fame inductee address.

“In your career, you will face decisions that happen to all of us as Army officers,” he said. “You will have to decide whether to do the ‘smart thing’ or the ‘right thing.’

“Most of the time the right thing and smart thing will align, but there will be times when they do not.  And it will not be easy. What will you do?”

Dowdle said it happened three times in his career.

“The first and third times I decided to do the right thing, and the second time I did the smart thing,” he said.

“They all worked out, but occasionally when I look back on my career, which decision do you think I second guess myself on?  I leave that for you to decide when your time comes.”

Dowdle has more than 10 years of experience in performing Army staff functions and is a subject matter expert in linking foresight analysis and strategic planning for National and Army level strategies to the Army Planning, Program, and Budget Execution (PPBE) Process.

Dowdle published and managed the Army’s Strategic PPBE Document (The Army Plan, TAP) for more than two years. He was awarded the Army Staff Badge for his achievements.

Dowdle has more than eight years of experience in developing and managing Army educational and training programs for the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). These approved courses include distributed education and technologies.

Dowdle’s four years of experience as a Joint Staff with the National Guard Bureau include daily interactions within the Department of Defense as well as with the White House, Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and 54 states and territories.

Dowdle received the Superior Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Valorous Unit Award (Desert Storm), Southwest Asia Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Staff Identification Badge (Army Staff Badge), Special Forces tab, Ranger tab, Parachutist Badge, and the Jordanian Parachutist Badge.

Gayla McSwain, the 2020 Hall of Fame inductee

Major (Ret.) Gayla McSwain ’82 is the 2020 ROTC Hall of Fame inductee but wasn’t recognized last year because of the pandemic. McSwain was recognized at this year’s event.

The Army disbanded the Women’s Army Corps and began integrating women into the Army in 1978, when McSwain arrived at PC as a freshman. She joined the ROTC that same year and was the only female in her commissioning class in a cadre of 250 cadets.

The cadre selected McSwain to be the battalion commander during her senior year. She made PC history by becoming the College’s first-ever female battalion commander.

“ROTC gave me basic army training with its emphasis on military history, weaponry, physical training, goal setting, back planning, and the development of organizational and principled leadership skills,” McSwain said.

In 1982, McSwain graduated from PC magna cum laude and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army. She went on to become one of the first to serve in the PATRIOT missile battalion. She served as an Army captain and officer-in-charge in the former West Germany.

McSwain received the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (1st OLC), Parachutist Badge, Army Service Ribbon, Army Achievement Medal, and Overseas Service Ribbon.

After four years of active duty, McSwain went on to earn a law degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law and begin a family. She was a trial lawyer with McNair Law Firm for nearly 20 years before forming McSwain Law Firm LLC. She has served on a number of boards of directors and is currently a member of city council for the City of Goose Creek, S.C.

“Indirectly, ROTC’s emphasis on planning and organization helped prepare me for all of those experiences, especially the child-rearing,” McSwain said.