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Three seniors named Distinguished Military Graduates

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Julie Brooks, Thomas Diehl & Leeann Esford

Three ROTC seniors from Mercyhurst University will be commissioned in the United States Military as Distinguished Military Graduates (DMG) when they graduate on Sunday, May 17.

Julie Brooks, Thomas Diehl and Leeann Esford are three of four total DMG recipients from the Pride of Pennsylvania ROTC Battalion. This ROTC program also enlists students from Gannon University and Penn State Behrend.

ROTC cadets are evaluated during their first three years using criteria that includes academic performance/GPA, leadership ability through the 30-day Cadet Leader Course (CLC), Leader Development Assessment Couse (LDAC) and performance during the Army Physical Fitness Test. Those cadets who achieve in the top 20 percent in the nation are selected and honored as Distinguished Military Graduates at graduation.

"I have had the distinct pleasure of working with this graduating class since the beginning of their training, and it has been awesome to see them mature in their leadership abilities,” said Raymond E. Patterson, ROTC recruiting operations officer, who has taught the three cadets since freshman year. “I find it an honor to teach and mentor the nation’s next generation of leaders.” 

After graduation, Brooks will join the military intelligence branch as an active duty officer. Brooks performed as the battalion’s company commander in charge of all Mercyhurst cadets. She is the recipient of the American Legion Award for Academic Excellence, the Iron Cadet Award and the Dean’s List Award for her academic performance at Mercyhurst University. Brooks is from Erie, and is a daughter of Kevin and Jill Brooks. She will graduate with an intelligence studies degree.

Diehl will join the armor branch as an active duty officer until he earns the title of captain. After advancing, he will join the military intelligence branch. Diehl was named as the battalion’s second in command executive officer. He is the recipient of the Military Order of Purple Heart Leadership Award and the Mercyhurst Dean’s List Award. Diehl is from Chardon, Ohio, and is a son of Robert and Rachel Diehl. He will graduate with an intelligence studies degree.

Esford will also join the military intelligence branch. She performed as the battalion’s S-2 in charge of intelligence operations and security. She is the recipient of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Award and the Mercyhurst Dean’s List. Esford is from Eden, New York, and is a daughter of Robert and Elisa Esford. She will graduate with a double major in intelligence studies and Spanish.

“It is more imperative then ever before that we continue to grow the seeds of liberty as young men and women like these graduating seniors prepare to take the oath of office to support and defend the constitution of the United States of America,” said Patterson. “In the face of today's global environment, people must be willing to take a stand for what is right or be prepared to fall. The Pride of PA Battalion wishes them much success in their military careers.”