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Head of Cadet Command speaks at review

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Cadet Jesse Baker shakes hands with University of North Georgia President Bonita Jacobs during the recent Distinguished Military Student Review. Also pictured, from left, are Col. (retired) Tom Palmer, commandant of cadets at UNG; Col. Todd Wilson, professor of military science at UNG; Jacobs; and Brig. Gen. Peggy Combs, commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox.

Brig. Gen. Peggy Combs, the first woman to serve as commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, Kentucky, congratulated 19 members of the University of North Georgia (UNG) Corps of Cadets recognized Sept. 21 as Distinguished Military Students and challenged them to "make everyone in this Corps of Cadets just as good as you are."

Combs was guest speaker and reviewing officer at the 2014 Distinguished Military Students Review, conducted annually on the Dahlonega Campus to honor senior ROTC cadets who have excelled academically and as leaders. In addition to congratulating the 19 cadets, Combs praised the Golden Eagle Band and Blue Ridge Rifles for their performances and UNG's Corps of Cadets as a whole.

"I couldn't be prouder to lead U.S. Army Cadet Command and watch cadets like you lead the way in leadership excellence for this great nation," she said.

Cadet Command oversees some 31,000 cadets in hundreds of Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programs across the country. It is part of the U.S. Army's Training and Doctrine Command, the command responsible for training the U.S. Army at all levels.

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Brig. Gen. Peggy Combs

"Know that this is a journey of lifelong learning," Combs told cadets planning to pursue an Army career. "Once you get your commission, it's not the end, it's the beginning. Treat your degree as that fertile beginning of lifelong learning that will sustain you and sustain your desire to learn."

The cadets honored at Sunday's review were Brent W. Anderson, Jesse O. Baker, Brandon W. Blaylock, Kenneth W. Bolton, William C. Boyd, Weldon B. Cox III, David S. Day, Cody A. Dewald, Clifton T. Francis, Lane S. Hodnett, David E. Hutto, Jeremy R. Martin, Michael R. Munson, Jonathan Newberry, Graben Parrish, Cody B. Retherford, Sophie Schell, Jonathan C. Strickland, and Mitchell D. Watson.

Each cadet was congratulated and presented with individual honors by Combs; UNG President Bonita Jacobs; Col. Todd Wilson, professor of military science at UNG; and Col. (retired) Tom Palmer, commandant of cadets at UNG.

Additionally, Hutto, Munson, Strickland, Watson, and Martin were the top cadets in their respective platoons at this summer's Leadership Development and Assessment Course, the capstone training and assessment exercise for Army ROTC, conducted at Fort Knox. Each platoon is made up of some 48 cadets from around the country.

To be selected as a Distinguished Military Student, a cadet must be in the upper half of the academic class, the upper third of the ROTC class, and the upper third of the Order of Merit List established by the university's professor of military science. Additionally, cadets are selected on the basis of interest and aptitude for military service and outstanding qualities of leadership and initiative as demonstrated by participation and achievement in campus, civic and military activities.

In her remarks on Sept. 21, Combs also encouraged all cadets to work hard to develop the attributes required by the military.

"The three C's of our great profession – character, competence and commitment – are our touchstones. Those attributes, based on trust, are what makes us the greatest Army and the most professional force in the land," Combs said. "It is a noble calling and it is one that deserves your whole heart. Put your whole heart and soul into it and ask yourself every day: 'Do I have the humble attitude of servitude that's going to allow me to selflessly serve this country and preserve its freedoms?'"

Combs commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in May 1985 and as a Distinguished Military Graduate of the ROTC program at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York. She has served in a variety of leadership and staff positions at the tactical, operational and strategic levels, including a stint as commandant of the Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School, and chief of staff for the Iraq Training and Advisory Mission in Baghdad, Iraq.

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