SRU Army ROTC cadet to become an officer at fall commissioning ceremony


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The oath, the pinning of the bars and the first salute are all part of Slippery Rock University Army ROTC’s Fall 2017 Commissioning Ceremony, Dec. 15 at the Alumni House.

Dec. 14, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's Army ROTC program will commission one graduate at its 5 p.m., Dec. 15 Fall 2017 Commissioning Ceremony at the Russell Wright Alumni House.

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Described by his cadre as "humble" and "mild-mannered," Jacob Fiscus, a senior criminology and criminal justice major from Sharon, will officially become a U.S. Army second lieutenant. Consistent with his leadership's assessment, Fiscus said he prefers not to have such an event, but he realizes its importance.

"We're going to have to fill in some time to make it worthwhile for everyone," Fiscus said with a laugh. "But it's an important event to have to recognize the time and effort and the work that cadets have put in over the course of four years. It's great to recognize that."

Capt. Joseph Barrow, assistant professor of military science, spoke to Fiscus' humble nature when asked about the cadet's character.

"He asks a lot of questions without making assumptions," Barrow said. "That's not the first thing you think of for an Army officer, but it's important to have that intellectual curiosity. He's confident, yet he has a lot of humility about what he doesn't know."

As part of the ceremony's customs, Fiscus will have his oath administered by a commissioned officer or warrant officer of his choosing. Fiscus selected 1st Lt. Geurin Barrows, a 2015 SRU graduate with a bachelor's degree in criminology. Barrows, a Philipsburg native who Fiscus considers a mentor and confidant, is stationed in Hawaii but is able to come home for the ceremony.

Master Sgt. Jason Vandegrift, senior military science instructor, will give Fiscus his first salute from a non-commissioned officer. "He's taught me a great deal about being a leader," Fiscus said. "It's an honor to have him as my first salute. I've learned tons of valuable lessons from him."

Fiscus' parents, Edward and Carrie Stabile of Sharon, will perform the pinning of the bars by attaching his insignia of rank to his uniform.

His uniform already includes the Expert Infantryman Badge and the Air Assault Badge, two achievements that are rare for a cadet.

"He hasn't let any of that go to his head," Barrow said. "He's a humble guy despite the fact that he's had some awesome achievements."

Barrow said that having those two distinctions can be intimidating to other cadets, but Fiscus is considered by the cadre as a mentor for the younger members of the battalion. Barrow also describes Fiscus as a typical western Pennsylvania guy who likes to hunt and fish. He also has a truck, and he's not afraid to use it.

"He's the kind of guy who would be the first to show up to help you move out of your apartment," Barrow added.

Fiscus enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2013 and completed basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He enrolled at Duquesne University in spring 2014 before transferring to SRU as a contracted cadet in fall 2014, which is why he is graduating on time in the fall.

Fiscus will continue his commitment to the National Guard as a member of the Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment in Butler. His next step will be returning to Fort Benning for the 17-week Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course. After that, his goals are to qualify for Ranger School and switch to full-time active duty.

Initially enlisting to help pay for college and "do something different," Fiscus has developed the mentality to answer more calls.

"I felt (military service) was a challenge," Fiscus said. "I wanted to do something that was out of my comfort zone. But I've (grown to) want to do something bigger and better."

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