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NASA Administrator Welcomes New Class of Officers at ODU Commissioning Ceremony

NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden reflected on his 34-year career as a Marine and offered encouragement to a new class of fellow officers at the Joint Army ROTC and Hampton Roads Naval ROTC commissioning ceremony at Old Dominion University on Friday, May 10.

Bolden said there were times during his career as a military pilot and his career with NASA, which included four space shuttle missions, when he wasn't sure he was going to return safely.

"Military service is like no other career in the world," Bolden, NASA's 12th administrator, told the new officers. "Through NASA, I'm proud to be part of an organization that has featured military members from the first Mercury rocket tests to wheels down on the last space shuttle mission."

In introducing Bolden, ODU President John R. Broderick told the new officers that unique challenges await them each and every day in their new military command.

"You will learn about the uniqueness of each of the men and women who will be placed in your capable charge. You will learn hard and sometimes difficult lessons about the leadership role that you hold. And most importantly, you will learn that the career path you have chosen has led you to something that is much bigger than yourself," Broderick said.

"That being said, Gen. Bolden, I am confident that today we are delivering to the armed forces a cadre of soon-to-be commissioned officers who are more than equal to the tasks before them."

Bolden echoed those words in his remarks.

"You're about to assume positions of responsibility in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, and your troops will look to you as an example," Bolden said. "You have to prove that the proper way to do things is to do the right thing, even if it's not the easy thing."

Bolden began his duties as NASA administrator July 17, 2009, after being nominated to the post by President Barack Obama. As administrator, Bolden leads the NASA team and manages its resources to advance the agency's mission and goals.

His career with the U.S. Marine Corps included 14 years as a member of NASA's Astronaut Office. He traveled into orbit four times on the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions. His flights included deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope and the first joint U.S.-Russian shuttle mission, which featured a cosmonaut as a member of his crew.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Bolden flew more than 100 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia while stationed in Namphong, Thailand, from 1972-73.

Seventy-five new Army, Navy and Marine Corps officers were commissioned during the May 10 ceremony at ODU's Ted Constant Convocation Center. Since the Naval ROTC Unit, Hampton Roads, encompasses the entire region, nine Hampton University cadets and two from Norfolk State University were also commissioned at the ceremony, joining 64 students from ODU.

The new officers were "pinned" with their officer badge by family members and friends, and then gave a "first salute" to a military mentor on the stage.

Following this ceremony, the new officers will leave shortly for their first postings around the world.

The Hampton Roads Naval ROTC, commanded by Capt. Thomas V. Halley Jr., was founded in 1982 and brought into being an innovative concept known as the NROTC Consortium. Under this concept, Hampton Roads was the first unit to offer complete NROTC programs at three separate institutions. The command has permanent instructors, staff, office space and training facilities at each university; yet the unit and its battalion of midshipmen and officer candidates are integrated into a single command structure. The Hampton Roads Consortium is the fourth-largest NROTC unit in the nation.

The ODU Army ROTC, under the command of Lt. Col. Brian D. Kerns, was founded in 1969 as part of the Darden College of Education. More than 1,000 young men and women have received their officer commissioning through ODU since the program's inception.

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