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UCSB Surfrider Battalion Cadets Receive Awards in Annual Ceremony

From left, Lieutenant Colonel George Davis, Commander ROTC Battalion; Lieutenant John Blankenship, co-founder of the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation; ROTC Cadet Gabriel Albertson; Major Jose Ramirez, PCVF board member; and Colonel Phil Conran, PCVF board president.
From left, Lieutenant Colonel George Davis, Commander ROTC Battalion; Lieutenant John Blankenship, co-founder of the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation; ROTC Cadet Gabriel Albertson; Major Jose Ramirez, PCVF board member; and Colonel Phil Conran, PCVF board president. (EMI Photography photo)

On Friday, May 8, the UCSB ROTC Surfrider Battalion handed out awards in 30 categories to the most deserving cadets at the Mosher Alumni House on campus. Awards acknowledged the students’ characters, military and scholastic studies, leadership qualities, and their exceptional aptitude for military service along with ideals noteworthy of an Army officer.

Honoring one of the largest donors to the ROTC program, the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation presented the “Alex Newsom Outstanding Cadet Award.” Honor went to Cadet Gabriel Albertson, a senior who epitomizes leadership, military bearing, physical fitness and the Army values. This cadet holds the highest moral character and demonstrates the ability to lead under extreme stress.

The award, which comes with a $500 scholarship, is named for USCB Surfrider alumnus of 2005 Captain Alex Newsom, who was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry (3rd highest medal of valor) while serving in Afghanistan. His calm and focused actions saved many lives and turned the tide of battle and against a numerically superior enemy. Albertson received two more commendations, further cementing his high standards. Previous awardees were Cadets Raelyn Guzman, Eric Chu and Brooke Smith. The UCSB Surfrider Battalion is #1 in standing in California and holds sixth place in the nation.

Each of the men in the photo, when asked about the program had only high praise. John Blankenship, Co-Founder of the PCVF said, “We have been and will continue to be stalwart supporters of the ROTC Program. Our annual gift of $100,000 adds up to one million dollars now since we began funding ten years ago for the whole cadre — from individuals who are experiencing financial hardships, to help with underwriting the costs involved in getting cadets in the ROTC unit to events like the annual marathon, which honors the men who were in the Bataan Death March Memorial, among many other needs.”

In regard to this year’s awardee, John continued, “Gabriel has consistently proven himself to be a great asset to the program and his fellow cadets. He has the potential to set an incredible example of the leadership the ROTC program instills.”

“The level of achievement the ROTC cadets are recognized for by the diverse organizations presenting the awards always awes me,” said Jose Ramirez, who has been coming to the ROTC Awards for many years. As a member of the Military Order of the World Wars (MOWW), I am gratified to see that love of country is thriving, and as a board member of the PCVF, I am pleased to note our support on behalf of this outstanding ROTC unit is being utilized wisely.”

Surfrider Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Davis remarked on this class of 2015, “The UCSB Army ROTC Program continues to produce quality leaders for the future of America. No matter the generational concerns, these young men and women are willing to serve their nation for the greater good.”

Phil Conran, Board President for PCVF added, “Attending award ceremonies where we honor cadets who excel in the present day college environment always does me proud. Newsweek Magazine alleges 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction this country is headed. That may be so but, when I interface with the UCSB cadets, I see only a promising future. America will continue to be a great nation as long as we produce cadets with high standards of excellence like the ROTC program here.”

— Maureen McFadden is a publicist representing the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation.

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