Indiana Daily Student

First IU ROTC female graduate speaks at Veterans Day Ceremony

<p>Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Pamela Davis was the first woman to graduate from IU ROTC and to receive a commission or a document identifying her earned rank from the Air Force. Davis was also the first woman to be a commander of any unit for the Tennessee National Guard. </p>

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Pamela Davis was the first woman to graduate from IU ROTC and to receive a commission or a document identifying her earned rank from the Air Force. Davis was also the first woman to be a commander of any unit for the Tennessee National Guard.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Pamela Davis holds many firsts. The first woman to graduate from IU ROTC and to receive a commission or a document identifying her earned rank from the Air Force. The first woman to be a commander of any unit for the Tennessee National Guard. One of the first women to receive a commission from ROTC in the entire country. 

“Being the first woman to graduate from ROTC here was a mixed bag,” Davis said. “It was an honor, but it was also quite stressful because there was so much attention focused on my performance, and I really wanted to be a standard-bearer for women that were going to come behind me.”

She spoke Monday at the Sample Gates to IU ROTC students, whose shoes she was in more than 40 years ago. Veterans and other members of the community attended as well. 

“I am so proud of the folks that I’ve seen this morning,” Davis said. “Seeing these people gives me renewed hope that we’re headed in the right direction.” 

Phillip Zook, another IU alum, former IU ROTC member and veteran, was present at the ceremony. He received a commission as an Infantry 2nd Lt. and said he appreciated that the university gave an opportunity for people to observe Veterans Day. 

"There were a lot of years when an observance on Veterans Day did not occur, so I think it's really great that the university is doing something," Zook said. 

John Summerlot, IU Bloomington Center for Veteran and Military Students director, said the ceremony was especially unique because, with the bicentennial, IU got to have someone so pivotal in its history speak.  

Jeremiah Saxton, IU senior and Marine Corps veteran, said it’s tough to articulate exactly what this day means. 

He got out of the Marine Corps only a year and a half ago and is now in the inactive ready reserves. So, he said he doesn’t feel like he’s really left yet. He comes from a family full of Marines, and many of his friends are still serving today. 

“For me, this is just recognition of the work they’ve put in and obviously the sacrifices that they have made,” Saxton said.

IU junior Robyn Hall, currently enlisted in the Air Force, has been to this event every year she’s been at IU. While Hall and her brother are the only ones in her family who have served in the military, she said Veterans Day still means a lot to her, as she knows there are people who made that sacrifice before her. 

“It was cool to see this small community come together and just celebrate the people who have served,” Hall said. 

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