Detachment Will Compete Nationally
By Sandra Seitz
The Air Force ROTC on campus, Detachment #345, has been named the best small detachment in the Northeast.
The award is for a two-year record of achievement in several categories, including cadet activities, university relations and education. The nominees will be honored at the national AFROTC Commander’s Conference in Montgomery, Ala., in November, where the national winner in each size category will be announced.
Lt. Col. Matthew McSwain, Det. #345 commander, nominated the detachment for its first regional win since 1987.
“I am so proud of this team and our cadets, and all that these extraordinary young people are doing on campus and around Lowell,” says McSwain. Enrollment is the highest in 12 years, with a jump of 59 percent in the past two years. “This reflects the excellent reputation our program enjoys, and our efforts to recruit, retain and motivate.”
McSwain points to several highlights of the past two years.
The Alumni Heritage 60th Anniversary celebration honored alumni and their achievements. As one of the first college-based AFROTC detachments authorized by the U.S. Congress, Det. #345 has nearly 3,000 alumni, men and women who have passed through the program and been commissioned. A good representation of alumni from different decades attended the events in May, which included a Flag Retreat ceremony and the annual military ball. Col. Jefferson Dunn, commander of AFROTC nationwide, was the distinguished speaker at the ball.
“I’ve spoken with many alumni,” says McSwain. “All the alumni share a deep love and commitment to their country, their university and this detachment.”
An academic highlight has been establishing a University-approved Joint Military Studies minor that is open to any UMass Lowell student. In addition to military organizations, missions and operations, the program’s courses offer a broad perspective of military, terrorism and security issues, national and international politics.
“Military Studies would be useful to any student interested in working in the Department of Defense, State Department or government services,” says McSwain.
Also open to all students, not just cadets, is the new chapter of Silver Wings, a nationwide student professional organization that promotes leadership, community service and professional development. Many chapter members are majoring in management, says McSwain.
“Silver Wings members can attend the aerospace forum in Washington, D.C., where four-star generals and leaders of industry are accessible,” he says. “I’m proud to say UMass Lowell’s chapter was elected to the national staff, the students who run the organization. They did a great job.”
Any tour of duty poses twin challenges: to maintain continuity and to enrich the program. McSwain has one more year on campus in his three-year assignment.
“My goals are to continue to commission the best possible officers in the United States Air Force and to grow the program,” he says. “We’ve worked to integrate the program into all levels of the University, to increase awareness of our military people on campus and to make an enduring connection with out alumni.”
Well done, sir.