Sixteen Niagara University Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army during a ceremony held May 13, 2016, in NU’s Gallagher Center.

This marks the 75th consecutive year that members of NU’s Purple Eagle Battalion have taken the oath of office.

The oath was administered by retired Brig. Gen. Anthony F. Caruana, a 1969 Niagara alumnus who spent 36 years as a secondary school English teacher in the Depew district, in addition to his many years in the Army Reserve. Since January 2008, he has served as supervisor of the Town of Tonawanda.

Upon completion of the oath, family members pinned gold bars on the uniforms of the new second lieutenants:

  • Peter Caputo (Staten Island, N.Y.)
  • Philip Crane (Lockport, N.Y.)
  • Brian Duncan (Webster, N.Y.)
  • Michael FitzGerald (Grand Island, N.Y.)
  • Benjamin Geblein (Lancaster, N.Y.)
  • Kyle Gelnett (Cleveland, N.Y.)
  • Guillermo Gutierrez* (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
  • Tyler Martin (Wilson, N.Y.)
  • Zachary Nutter (Ballston Spa, N.Y.)
  • Marie Olszewski (Skaneateles, N.Y.)
  • Casey Rebovich (New Hartford, N.Y.)
  • Peter Salat (Rhineback, N.Y.)
  • Dustin Schulz (Plymouth, Wis.)
  • Jacque-Leen Taylor (Schenectady, N.Y.)
  • Jack Truman (Allegany, N.Y.)
  • Rochelle Thomas (Buffalo, N.Y.)
  • Jeffery Wojtowski (Amherst, N.Y.)

*Gutierrez will be formally commissioned after fulfilling requirements this summer.

The new officers joined the less than 1 percent of the United States population who have sworn to serve and protect the nation. They are part of an even smaller percentage of the Army who are responsible for the health, welfare, and training of the nation’s sons and daughters during a time of continual conflict and uncertainty.

The Army ROTC program is designed to augment the college learning experience by identifying and developing future leaders. Its primary goals are to identify, instruct, and commission young men and women for service as officers in the United States Army Reserve or the Army National Guard. Intermediate goals include providing students with the managerial skills necessary to organize and effectively run a student club, small business, or an Army platoon.

Niagara is regularly ranked in the top 10 percent of Army ROTC programs in the United States. The Purple Eagle Battalion’s rise to excellence culminated in 2004, when it was the top-ranked program in the nation.

In 2008 and 2013, the Purple Eagle Battalion was one of only eight ROTC programs nationwide to be presented with the prestigious MacArthur Award, which is based on a combination of the achievement of the school’s commissioning mission and its cadets’ performance and standing on the Cadet Command’s National Order of Merit List, and its cadet retention rate.

To learn more about Niagara University’s ROTC program, please visit

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