ROTC cadets receive commission at Kirtland ceremony

  • Published
  • By Katherine C. Gandara
  • Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Chief of Public Affairs
Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from the University of New Mexico took their oath of commission in a ceremony May 11 at the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center headquarters at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

AFOTEC's Commander Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn spoke to the eight new 2nd lieutenants about the importance of their role as leaders. "You'll be responsible for caring for America's treasure, its young men and women, like yourselves, in what are sure to be tough economic times ahead," said General Eichhorn. "But take care of those men and women and they'll take care of the mission, proudly overcoming all challenges and hardships you might face. It's what well led teams do."

The cadets are part of the Air Force ROTC Detachment 510 at UNM. Cadets are commissioned each year in December and May with the spring commissioning being the largest.

"The cadets wanted to hold the ceremony at Kirtland because the base has been very supportive in teaming with us to produce some of the best new officers in the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Raul Garcia, Detachment 510 Commander. "Kirtland has a great impact on the Albuquerque and UNM community. Some of our students are interns with Sandia National Laboratories, many are employed on base, two obtained their pilot's licenses at the base Aero Club, and we regularly ask base representatives from every Air Force Specialty Code to talk to the cadets. Having the event at Kirtland marks the return to our service culture upon which the cadets thrive."

"Since 2007, UNM has performed a joint service commissioning," explained Colonel Garcia. "However, thanks to the hard work of Maj. Scott McMahon, who recently moved from AFOTEC to Det. 510 as our recruiting flight commander, the graduating cadets had the first Air Force commissioning ceremony since 2006 at AFOTEC's Howard Leaf Presentation Center."

"It means the world to me to follow in my father's and sister's footsteps of being an officer and carrying on a family tradition," said 2nd Lt. Michele Moldovean. "My father was an Army helicopter pilot so I want to be a helicopter pilot and combine that with my medical background to serve as a search and rescue pilot. That will allow me to be there for my fellow military and civilian team members."

One of the new lieutenants received a surprise announcement from General Eichhorn during the ceremony that he was selected to attend the Air Force Institute of Technology to work on his masters degree in astrophysics. "It was a huge surprise and to have General Eichhorn tell me the way he did was very cool," said 2nd Lt. Joshua Reding. "I feel like there are no limits to the possibilities ahead of me. I am excited for what lies ahead and I couldn't have come this far without the support of my family and the UNM ROTC leadership."

"The UNM ROTC program is fortunate to have a great team, including two civilian employees who have been part of the team for more than a combined 20 years," said Colonel Garcia. "Ms. Judy Ortiz-Aragon and Ms. Elizabeth Hofmann-Yslas have seen many commissionings and each one is memorable."

"This is a huge milestone for each of these graduates," said Ms. Ortiz-Aragon. "They have completed their college degree and the Air Force ROTC program and now they are lieutenants. I am always humbled that they are now going out to defend our nation."

"This ceremony spotlights these cadets becoming Air Force officers," said Colonel Garcia. "However, it is much more than that; they have become leaders over the past four years. They are smart, resourceful, enthusiastic and ready to do great things for America."

The 2012 UNM Air Force ROTC commissionees are:
  • 2nd Lt. Josh De Amusategui enlisted in the Air Force in 2005 and served at Cannon AFB, N.M., as a ground radar systems technical before enrolling in the Air Force ROTC program. He graduated cum laude with a degree in applied mathematics from UNM and will report to air battle manager training.
  • 2nd Lt. Eric Estvanko graduated with a degree in business administration from UNM and will report to pilot training.
  • 2nd Lt. Kathleen Fosterling graduated with a degree in communications and journalism from UNM and will report to space and missile officer training.
  • 2nd Lt. Cody Gibson graduated with a degree in university studies from UNM and will report to combat systems operator training.
  • 2nd Lt. Geoffrey Guerdrum graduated with a psychology degree from UNM and will report to remotely piloted aircraft pilot training.
  • 2nd Lt. Cody Gutierrez graduated with a degree in university studies from UNM and will report to pilot training.
  • 2nd Lt. Joshua Reding graduated with a degree in astrophysics and will serve as a physicist after completing his master's degree at the Air Force Institute of Technology.
  • 2nd Lt. Michelle Moldovean enlisted in the Navy in 2005 and served as a corpsman for one tour before enrolling in the Air Force ROTC program. She graduated with a degree in professional aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and will report to pilot training.