U.S. Army commissions eight new second lieutenants from Highlander Battalion

U.S. Army commissions eight new second lieutenants from Highlander Battalion

Retired Brig. Gen. Rick Porter '78 administers the commissioning oath to new second lieutenants and former cadets from the ROTC Highlander Battalion.

Retired Brig. Gen. Rick Porter ’78 administers the commissioning oath to new second lieutenants and former cadets from the ROTC Highlander Battalion.

The United States Army added eight new officers, including four from Presbyterian College, during the 2025 Army Reserve Officer Training Corps commissioning ceremony on May 10.

The eight newly-commissioned second lieutenants represented the Highlander Battalion, which trains cadets from PC, Lander University, and Newberry College.

In her welcome, PC president Dr. Anita Gustafson praised the graduating cadets for their dedication, perseverance, and commitment.

“You have chosen a path of service, leadership, and honor,” she said. “This journey requires courage, resilience, and a deep sense of duty. You have demonstrated these qualities through your hard work and training and today marks the beginning of a new chapter in your lives. We are proud of all you have accomplished and we have no doubt that you will continue to make us proud as you serve our nation.”

Brig. Gen. Rick Porter '78 is gifted with a Scottish claymore from Lt. Col. Janet Pete-Fox in honor of his May 10 speech at the 2024 ROTC commissioning ceremony.

Brig. Gen. Rick Porter ’78 is gifted with a Scottish claymore from Lt. Col. Janet Pete-Fox in honor of his May 10 speech at the 2024 ROTC commissioning ceremony.

Retired Brig. Gen. Rick Porter, who graduated and received his commission from PC’s ROTC program in 1978, inspired the new officers with wisdom earned from more than 30 years of military service.

Porter, who continues to serve in the Army Senior Executive Service at Fort Liberty in North Carolina, told the group they are joining an honorable profession of service to a great nation.

“It’s a team sport,” he said. “We’re winning battles. We have to win our home games, and we have to win our away games. We have to be ready at all times. It’s a team of teams. With 33 years of active service and 13 years as an Army member of the Senior Executive Corps in the Army, with my dad serving as a command sergeant major with 30 years of service and my son serving seven and a half years of service, I can confirm that the Army is a way of life and filled with many opportunities, opportunities to be all you can be.”

Porter noted that only one percent of the country’s population serves in the military and only three out of 10 people between the ages of 18-25 are even eligible to serve.

“Yet, you are here,” he said. “You are the exception that committed to the Army’s way of life. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the all-volunteer Army. We’re proud of that, and it’s cadets like you who are making that so.”

Porter issued several challenges to the graduating cadets. He implored them to become “old-timers” like him and he asked that they instill high standards for and take great care of the people who serve under their commands.

Former Highlander Battalion cadet commander and new 2nd Lt. Payton Hibler '24 is the recipient of the prestigious Wysor Saber during the ROTC commissioning ceremony on May 10.

Former Highlander Battalion cadet commander and new 2nd Lt. Payton Hibler ’24 is the recipient of the prestigious Wysor Saber during the ROTC commissioning ceremony on May 10.

“With the Army, it’s all about its people,” he said. “It’s about the love of its soldiers.”

Two PC students earned top honors at the commissioning ceremony. Walker Matthews, a junior from Jacksonville, Fla., earned the Capt. Kimberly Hampton Leadership Award, given in memory of Hampton, a 1998 graduate of PC who was killed in the line of duty. A helicopter pilot and one of the first female combat aviation commanders, Hampton was shot down and killed outside of Fallujah during the Iraq War in 2004.

2nd Lt. Payton Hibler received the Wysor Saber as the Highlander Battalion’s outstanding senior cadet. The award is named in honor of Col. Robert E. Wysor, who served as the head of PC’s ROTC program following World War I. Hibler, a native of Simpsonville, will serve in the U.S. Army’s Field Artillery, active duty, following graduation.

PC’s other newly-commissioned officers included:

  • 2nd Austin Caughman of Clinton – Ordnance, Active Duty
  • Chriss Flynn III of Richburg – Ordnance, Active Duty
  • Ryan Schledwitz of Spartanburg – Air Defense Artillery, S.C. Army National Guard