Ole Miss NROTC May 2019

Alumni Spotlight

LCDR Keat Pruszenski, USN (ret)

Born in Millington, TN, Pruszenski is the son of a Navy Chief who served in WWII. His father inspired him to pursue a career in the United States Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer. To accomplish this mission, he decided to join Naval ROTC at the greatest university in the world, Ole Miss. While in the NROTC program, Pruszenski enjoyed being a part of the drill team and always looked forward to their annual dance with Bill Deal and the Rondells, a popular musical group at the time from Virginia Beach.

Upon being commissioned into the United States Navy and graduating from Ole Miss in May of 1975, Pruszenski was assigned to the USS Blandy (DD-943) where he spent time as an ASW Officer. One of his favorite sea stories was when his crew defeated a Los Angeles Class submarine in a major freeplay exercise in the Mediterranean. They hit the submarine 9 times before it shot anyone. This was a major feat for a surface ship as this was the most advanced class of submarine at the time!

After retiring from the Navy, Pruszenski worked for Michelin Tires Company for 32 years. Pruszenski recalled, "I was hired initially for cost reduction, and had a real flare for that, saving lots of money over several years. The discipline I learned and leadership skills helped my career immensely." At one point, he supervised 230 employees in the tire factory and was eventually the prototype manager. Additionally, he was involved in tire certification on new aircraft and travelled the western hemisphere serving his airline customers.

Pruszenski remarked, "I was 25 and we got the better of 3 WestPac ships in a barrier exercise where I climbed to the crow's nest and substituted for the surface radar. The ship was making 30 knots, and I was 147 ft above sea level. Lots of fun!"

In retirement, he trailer sails a 25-foot sailboat on vacation from time to time.

For 25 years he flew this ultralight to work, and he now owns a Piper Cherokee that he flies to Ole Miss Football games to cheer on the Rebs.

Recent Events

Awards Ceremony

The annual Spring Awards Ceremony was held on Thursday, May 2nd to recognize the extensive achievements of many Midshipmen throughout the 2018-2019 school year. With such a high performing group of students, 200 awards were given out in total. Twenty-two national organizations including the American Legion, Society of American Military Engineers, National Defense Industrial Association, Sons of the American Revolution, and Military Order of the Purple Heart, and many more recognized our students.

Pictured on the right, Midshipman 2/C Peter M. Anthony is receiving the Military Officers Association of America award from CAPT Terry Anderson, USN (ret) for demonstrating exceptional potential for military leadership.

MIDN 3/C Jonathan P. Dyer receiving the Daughters of the American Revolution award from Mrs. Emily Holmes for demonstrating loyalty and patriotism and for earning a record of military and scholastic achievement during his time in Naval ROTC.

MIDN 3/C Jeffrey A. Loder receiving the Veterans of Foreign Wars award from Mr. Gail Wilson and Mr. Greg Lovelady for his outstanding achievements and exceptional leadership ability as a Midshipman within the Naval ROTC program.

Our many distinguished guests as they await to present the awards from their organizations to their recipients.

The Sons of Union Veterans, War of 1812, American Legion, Daughters of the American Revolution, Military Officers Association of America, Sons of the American Revolution, Order of the Purple Heart, and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations were all generous enough to send representatives to our ceremony to present their awards.

MIDN 2/C Isaiah M. Walker receiving the National Defense Industrial Association award from CAPT David Neal, USN for his academic excellence both within the university and within the NROTC program, displaying great military aptitude through his character in NROTC, actively participating in campus activities, and demonstrating outstanding leadership qualities.

MIDN 4/C Mary C. Middleton receiving the USAA Spirit award from CAPT David Neal, USN for displaying a consistent attitude of optimism in all unit activities and encouraging strong unit morale.

MIDN 3/C Hunter D. Hobson receiving the War of 1812 award from RADM Thomas Gerald Lilly, USN (ret) for his outstanding achievement in studies and distinguished attainment in the Naval ROTC program.

LCpl Charles C. Dube receiving the Reserve Officers Association award from CAPT David Neal, USN for demonstrating outstanding competence in the arts and sciences of National Defense and for his meritorious contribution to the common good of the United States.

MIDN 3/C Jake W. Nicholas receiving the Sons of the American Revolution award from Mr. Hale Freeland for proving himself to be an outstanding Naval ROTC Midshipman based on his military excellence and scholarship in his ROTC studies and activities.

Midshipmen Change of Command Ceremony

Immediately following the awards ceremony, the Rebel Battalion conducted their Midshipman change of command ceremony, a military tradition that symbolizes the physical transfer of duties from one commander to the next. This change of command represents a turnover of every billet within the Midshipman chain of command, from the Operations Officer down to the Squad Leaders. Within the past few weeks, the Midshipmen have been undergoing the turnover process where each old member teaches the new member the ins and outs of how to be successful in the position so that the unit can hit the ground running in the Fall.

Left: MIDN 1/C Noah C. VanGorder is relieved of his command by MIDN 2/C Charles H. Reneau.

The Ole Miss NROTC Battalion in formation as they await the Midshipmen change of command.

The University of Mississippi NROTC Commanding Officer, CAPT David Neal, USN officially supervises the change of command ceremony. MIDN 1/C VanGorder reports that he has been properly relieved and MIDN 2/C Reneau reports that he has assumed his new billet as Midshipman CO.

Ole Miss NROTC Staff 2019

Ole Miss vs. LSU

The 37-year losing streak against the LSU Tigers in Alex Box Stadium is over! The last time the Rebs won the series against the Tigers in Baton Rouge was in 1982, and after a 4.5 hr matchup on Sunday, May 5th, Ole Miss came out on top 19-15 in extra innings. The winner of the final game simply came down to grit. After LSU hit 3 back-to-back bombs out of right field in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game 15-all, the Rebs displayed their tenacity by answering with 4 runs and a crucial stop in the 10th. #HYDR

Recently Commissioned Officers

Ensign Joshua Brenc, USN

Ensign Brenc is the son of Gerald Brenc and Susan Ribordy - Brenc. He was born and raised in Wheaton, IL where he graduated from Wheaton North High School and became an Eagle Scout. He began his studies at The University of Mississippi in the fall of 2014 where he earned a Four-year National NROTC Scholarship at the end of his freshman year.

While in NROTC Ensign Brenc held multiple staff positions including Platoon Commander, Physical Training Instructor, and Special Operations Physical Training Instructor. A decorated Midshipmen, he was awarded with every NROTC ribbon possible, five times over. While attending Ole Miss Ensign Brenc played on the Ole Miss Hockey Team for three years and was an active member in Engineers Without Borders.

Ensign Brenc attended CORTRAMID West in San Diego, CA in the summer of 2016. He spent his 2/C summer cruise aboard the USS Connecticut (SSN-22) a Seawolf Class fast attack submarine as the crew conducted pre-deployment operations in the Pacific Ocean. The following summer, Ensign Brenc was selected to attend SEAL Officer Assessment and Selection (SOAS) in Coronado, CA. In the fall of 2018, Ensign Brenc was selected for Naval Special Warfare.

Ensign Brenc commissioned with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Naval Science. He will report to Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in Coronado, CA on June 19th, 2019 to begin Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training.

Ensign Rick Wiegand, USN

Ensign Wiegand is the son of Randy and Robin Wiegand and is from Red Bud, IL. He graduated from Waterloo High School in Waterloo, IL in May of 2015, where he was awarded a four-year NROTC scholarship. He began his studies at the University of Mississippi and the NROTC program in the fall of 2015.

He attended CORTRAMID East in Norfolk, VA as his 3/C cruise, completed a submarine cruise from Hawaii to Alaska as his 2/C cruise, and a surface cruise during BALTOPS 2018 from Lithuania to Germany as his 1/C cruise.

While in NROTC at Ole Miss he held staff positions of Mentorship Program Coordinator, Midshipman Master Chief, and Midshipman Commanding Officer. He was awarded the Scholastic Achievement by the American Legion, the Honor Award by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, and the Commanding Officer Commendation Certificate of Excellence. He also made the Chancellor’s Honor Roll through the university.

Ensign Wiegand commissioned with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Naval Science. Ensign Wiegand will report to Power School in Charleston, SC to begin his training as a Submarine Officer in the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program.

Second Lieutenant Linden Daniel Munro, USMC

Second Lieutenant Munro enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2011 where he received the Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) 5811 Military Police. His first duty station was with Second Law Enforcement Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. While there he was part of a Counter Drug Task Force from 2012 to 2013 for one year. Following this, he deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit between July 2013 to November 2014 while serving as Team Leader and Watch Chief.

Upon returning from Deployment, he filled the Company Training Chief Billet for Charlie Company from 2014 to November 2016. During his time, he obtained the secondary MOS 5816 Special Reaction Team and became a Non-Lethal Weapons Instructor. While filling this Billet he trained over 800 Marines in Non-Lethal Weapons, Site Exploitation, and Close Quarter Combat.

During his time with Charlie Company, He was selected for the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Educational Program and selected to attend the University of Mississippi in 2017 to receive a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in Naval Science. While at the University, Second Lieutenant Munro has mentored and instructed the Midshipmen with the NROTC unit in which he taught them various Military and tactical knowledge. Second Lieutenant Munro will report to The Basic School, Quantico VA, on 10 June 2019, to be assigned a new Military Occupational Specialty.

Second Lieutenant Logan Rolleigh, USMC

Second Lieutenant Rolleigh is the son of Louis and Larissa Rolleigh and was born in Conway, AR. He graduated from Heber Springs High School in Heber Springs, AR. He began his studies at the University of Mississippi in August of 2015. He began as a college programmer and was awarded Advanced Standing which allowed him to attend Officer Candidate School this previous summer between his Junior and Senior years.

While in NROTC he has been the Marine Platoon Commander and the Company First Sergeant. He also has been the color guard commander and drill team commander for the past two years, as well as participating in various intramural sports. Outside of NROTC he volunteers at the Oxford Police Department Mounted Unit’s barn and is involved in Eta Sigma Phi, the classics honors society, and The Order of the Sword and Shield, the criminal justice honors society. He is also a provost scholar.

Second Lieutenant Rolleigh has graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and minoring in both Naval Science and History. He will report to The Basic School, Quantico, VA in October, 2019, to be assigned a Military Occupational Specialty.

Second Lieutenant Courtney Easterling, USMC

Second Lieutenant Easterling is the daughter of Angela Robertson, and was born in Flowood, MS. She graduated with honors from Germantown High School in Madison, MS, where she earned the four-year Marine Option scholarship. She began her studies at the University of Mississippi and the NROTC program in the Fall of 2015.

During her summers, she attended CORTRAMID East in Norfolk, VA, Mountain Warfare Training at Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, CA, and completed Marine Corps Officer Candidates School in Quantico, VA.

While in NROTC, she participated on the drill team all four years and competed in the Tulane annual drill meet for 2 of them. She has held numerous staff positions, including Marine Option Platoon Sergeant and Executive Officer. While attending Ole Miss, she has been a part of the Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship and the Women’s Rugby Club, where she served as Vice President for one year. She also assisted in teaching a self-defense class at the Turner Center and participated in several events with Rebels Against Sexual Assault.

Second Lieutenant Easterling graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Recreation Administration and a minor in Naval Science. Second Lieutenant Easterling will report to The Basic School, Quantico, VA, on 9 September 2019, to be assigned a Military Occupational Specialty.

Second Lieutenant Noah VanGorder, USMC

Second Lieutenant VanGorder, born fourth in a family of five children, was raised in McDonough, Georgia. He graduated from Union Grove High School in McDonough, GA. During his senior year, he was awarded a National Four-Year NROTC Scholarship and selected to attend the University of Mississippi. During his summers, he attended CORTRAMID West in San Diego, CA and 2nd Class Submarine Cruise in San Diego, CA. In August 2018, he completed Officer Candidate School in Quantico, VA.

While at the University, he achieved academic excellence in his studies early on in his college career, he was invited to join Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Additionally, he has attended Pinelake Church during his four years in Oxford and has been a small group leader for middle school boys. In the spring of 2018, he had the privilege of traveling to Mexico on mission with other church members to serve the people of Matamoros, Mexico for one week.

Second Lieutenant VanGorder commissioned Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a double minor in Engineering Mathematics and Naval Science. He will report to The Basic School, Quantico, VA in October 2019. Upon completion of The Basic School he will move with his wife to Pensacola, Florida to attend Marine Corps Flight School.

Commissioning Guest of Honor

Thomas “Butch” Harris was born, raised, and spent his young years in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1965, at the age of 17, he joined the United States Marine Corps and went to boot camp at Parris Island. From there he received infantry and recon training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Afterwards, he left for Camp Pendleton for his assignment to the Special Operations Helicopter Command. While there, he helped develop extraction technologies which served him well for when he turned 18, he was assigned to the war zone in Vietnam.

He entered Vietnam in 1966 where he was part of the Third Force Recon as part of the Special Operations Squadron on helicopters. While assigned there, he served as a door gunner, crew chief, and recon patrol leader. During his time in Vietnam, he was injured on two separate missions, earning him two Purple Hearts. The first with a bullet piercing through the helicopter and injuring him and the second from a rocket explosion during the mission. Among his decorations are The Vietnamese Campaign Medal, Vietnamese Service Medal with 4 stars, Combat Action Ribbon Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Naval Unit Citation, Presidential Unit Citation, Marine Expeditionary Force Medal, Two Marine Corps Meritorious Service Medals, Two Purple Hearts, and Two Bronze Stars with Valor. Sergeant Harris is a shining example of “once a Marine, always a Marine!”. He now spends much of his time visiting veterans at the Veterans Home, working with young Marine ROTC student. He also went to Washington to visit Mississippi elected leaders regarding veteran’s needs. He most assuredly epitomizes the Marine motto: Semper Fidelis, always faithful.

Butch has been a faithful supporter of Ole Miss NROTC for many years now and has offered up his land in Lafayette County for use for a multitude of ceremonies and other events. Butch, the Rebel Battalion salutes you and thanks you for all of your service to both your country and your community!

Upcoming Events

Summer Cruise Training

Now that the Spring semester has come to a close, Ole Miss Midshipmen are off to complete their summer training across the nation. Above is a video one of our students made from his experience at CORTRAMID, a 4-week long summer event dedicated to giving Midshipmen exposure to their job opportunities in the Navy and Marine Corps.

Unit Merchandise

Challenge Coin


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Unit Coffee Mug

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Unit Shirts

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