ROTC leaders at Eastern Michigan University honored during Change of Responsibility Ceremony

by Debra Johnson, Published June 07, 2013

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YPSILANTI - During a ceremony steeped in tradition, two departing military leaders from Eastern Michigan University were recognized for their distinguished years of service to the University and its Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.


Lieutenant Colonel Michael Wise (left), Dean Wade Tornquist, Lieutenant Colonel Eric Winterrowd and Major Rachael Smith

Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Michael Wise and Master Sergeant (MSG) Gregory Bray were honored during a Change of Responsibility ceremony held outside of the ROTC headquarters on May 31.

Replacing Wise is Lieutenant Colonel Eric Winterrowd, who will take over the ROTC responsibilities on Eastern's campus as the new professor of military science. He comes to Eastern from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Tacoma, Washington. Master Sergeant Edwin Sizer, Jr., from the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, will replace Bray as the new senior military instructor. Both officers were acknowledged during the ceremony.

"I will always be grateful to LTC Wise for giving me the courage to rappel from the top of Roosevelt Hall with the cadets during a training exercise," said Susan Martin, president of Eastern Michigan. "It made me realize Eastern's great tradition in military service and how brave our cadets are as they prepare to serve their country."

See President Susan Martin rappel down Roosevelt Hall

Wise spoke with sincere gratitude and emotion during the ceremony, held on a sunny, warm day by the garden on the east side of Roosevelt Hall. He noted to the cadets in attendance, that the EMU Army ROTC exists because of them and their desire to be world-class leaders in the United States Army.

"You deserve and will receive the best leadership and training while you are at Eastern," Wise said.  "We will develop your leadership skills by putting you into tough, realistic situations and intense classroom instruction in order to prepare you for real-world challenges. All, so that you can effectively lead today's soldiers in the endless protection of our nation."

Wise also acknowledged several recent graduates (Lieutenants) who are currently serving in Afghanistan, and thanked his ROTC cadre and staff for the outstanding support that they have given to him and to the cadets.

The Change of Responsibility Ceremony denotes the transfer in command between the outgoing and incoming senior military science instructors and professors of military science through the passing of the unit's colors (the flag). These colors represent not only the heritage and history of the unit, but also the unity and loyalty of its soldiers.

The custodian of the colors was Bray, the senior military science instructor and the senior non-commissioned officer in the unit. Bray was the principle advisor to the commander at Eastern. He passed his duties to Sizer.

The ceremony began as Bray passed the colors to Wise for the last time. Wise passed the colors to Wade Tornquist, dean of the College of Technology, thereby relinquishing his responsibilities and authority. Dean Tornquist, symbolically representing the authority of a Brigade Commander, supervised the relinquishment of responsibility from the outgoing to incoming battalion leadership. Tornquist then passed the colors to Winterrowd, charging the new professor of military science with the same responsibility and authority. Winterrowd completed the transition by passing the colors to Sizer, who will retain the colors.


Master Sergeant Gregory Bray (left) and Master Sergeant Edwin Sizer, Jr.

Wise became the 16th professor of military science at Eastern in June 2010. He began his more than 20-year active duty military career following his commissioning as a Second Lieutenant in the Signal Corps from Kent State University in 1992. He has served assignments in Germany, Bosnia, Iraq and the United States. He ends his tour of duty at Eastern and will retire from the Army this summer.

Bray entered active duty in 1989 as an indirect fire infantryman, and has served in leadership positions from squad leader to First Sergeant. He served in Germany, Alaska, and three combat tours in Iraq. In November of 2010, he assumed duties as the senior military instructor at the Eastern Michigan's department of military science and leadership. Bray is completing his last tour of duty at Eastern Michigan and will retire from the Army this fall. 

Winterrowd graduated from Western Illinois University in 1995, where he was commissioned as an Air Defense Artillery Second Lieutenant through the ROTC's Bulldog Battalion. His assignments have included South Korea, Germany, Kosovo, and the United States, and three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Winterrowd said that since arriving on Eastern's campus, he has been impressed by the support that the ROTC receives from both the university and the local community.

"The cadets that I have interacted with so far are excellent students who are committed to becoming great leaders in our Nation's Army. I look forward to the challenge of leading the program and maintaining its tradition of excellence." 

Sizer entered active duty in 1995 as a Field Artillery Cannon Crewmember. He has served in various leadership positions while on assignments in the Republic of South Korea, the United States and during three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from Columbia Southern University.

The Army ROTC program at Eastern Michigan University began in 1952. Prior to 1968-69, ROTC was mandatory for all first-semester freshman males for their first two years of college. Classes were taught in Welch Hall. In 1968, the ROTC program became fully elective, and moved to Roosevelt Hall (its current location) in July 1973. Today, there are 94 cadets in the ROTC program at Eastern.

"Eastern Michigan University is known as a top military-friendly university that understands the necessity for national defense," Wise said. "Eastern sets the bar for Army ROTC leader development, and Army officer commissioning requirements at both Eastern and at our partnership school at Spring Arbor University. I am proud and honored that our cadets emulate some of our nation's best valued and most courageous citizens."

Visit the EMU ROTC homepage to learn more about the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps and the benefits of cadet life. 


Debra Johnson

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