Cadet Benjamin Taitano, at center, receives the Jaffe Eager Squad award for his company from Regimental Commander Cassandra Davis and Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart, commandant of cadets.

Eager Squad Award
Cadet Benjamin Taitano, at center, receives the Jaffe Eager Squad award for his company from Regimental Commander Cassandra Davis and Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart, commandant of cadets.

The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets held its annual Military Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 20. The regiment filled the auditorium as the Corps, the university’s ROTC units, and various military and veteran’s organizations handed out long-awaited awards.

Thanks to the support of these local organizations, cadets received more than 150 awards this year in recognition of their outstanding efforts.

Golf Company received the Beverly S. Parrish Award, also known as the Gold Cord. This highly competitive award goes to the top company in the Corps, and it is the most anticipated and prized award of the ceremony. Criteria includes the academic performance of the unit, recruiting efforts, cadet retention, discipline, room and uniform inspections, and drill performance.

Cadet Nathan Sipantzi of Forrest, Virginia, commands Golf Company this spring. Sipantzi is a senior in Army ROTC, majoring in mechancial engineering. He is the recipient of the Elizabeth C. and John W. Donehower ’69 Emerging Leader Scholarship.

Alpha Company received the Jaffe Eager Squad Trophy. This trophy goes to the winner of the Eager Squad drill competition, an annual tradition performed in honor of Jeff Jaffe, a member of the class of 1942. Cadets practiced the drill sequence for weeks leading up to the event so that they could perfect it.

Cadet Benjamin Taitano of Burke, Virginia, led the winning squad. Taitano is a junior in Army ROTC majoring in international studies. He is a recipient of an Emerging Leader Scholarship.

Each of the 11 members of the winning squad received a $200 award from a trust established by Jaffe.

The best-drilled freshman and sophomore cadets receive the Eager Individual Award each year. Cadet Aydan Mortensen of Bristow, Virginia, was the Lt. Edward Raney Freshman Proficiency Award winner. Mortensen is in Army ROTC and majoring in psychology.

Cadet Jacob Davis of Ashland, Virginia, was the John E. Hill Memorial Sophomore Proficiency Award winner. Davis is in Naval ROTC and majoring in industrial systems engineering. He is a member of Band Company and is the recipient of the Zachary R. Eckhart ’07 Memorial Emerging Leader Scholarship.

Alpha Company earned the Glenn Wyatt Memorial Recruiting Award. This award goes to the company that performed the most recruiting at high schools over Thanksgiving and winter breaks.

Cadet Peter Wilson of Springhill, Tennessee, commands Alpha Company this spring. He is a senior in the Citizen-Leader Track/VPI Battalion and majoring in finance. He is the recipient of the R.B. Pamplin Family Emerging Leader Scholarship.

Alpha Company earned the Kohler Cup. The Kohler Cup recognizes the best drilling company in the Corps. Inspectors graded each unit on their marching before every football game as well as their marching during parades.

Cadet William Brannen of Fredericksburg, Virginia, was awarded the Earle D. Gregory Award for outstanding leadership and for the ability to organize and allocate resources. The Corps gives this award in the name of Virginia Tech alumnus Earle D. Gregory, one of seven Congressional Medal of Honor winners from Virginia Tech. Brannen is in Naval ROTC, Marine Option, and majoring in international studies with minors in Spanish and leadership studies. He is the recipient of the Margaret W. and Richard F. Wilkinson ’42 Emerging Leader Scholarship.

Cadet James Tucker of Leesburg, Virginia, received the Lacy O. Brumback Award for his outstanding performance as commander of Band-B Company in the fall semester. Tucker is a senior in Air Force ROTC and majoring in civil engineering. He is the recipient of the Tom Dobyns Memorial Emerging Leader Scholarship. In keeping with tradition, Tucker received an engraved pocket watch with his award.

The respective, proud companies erupted in applause as each award was given. In a challenging program like the Corps of Cadets it is important to recognize the extraordinary work of these young men and women.

The event is supported by a volunteer staff of cadets organized by Nicole Ward, program support technician for the commandant. Cadet volunteers served as ushers and assisted with handing out awards to the winners.

Written by Cadet Leeann Jones.