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The UNG color guard presents the colors as new NGV president Jay Misback looks on. PHOTO BY WAYNE TIDWELL

UNG’s Colonel Wright guest speaker at the North Georgia Veterans dinner

BY WAYNE TIDWELL
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Colonel Joshua D. Wright, professor of Military Science at the University of North Georgia (UNG) was guest speaker at the North Georgia Veterans annual dinner November 6 at the Big Canoe clubhouse.

Wright gave an inspiring account of the state of the University’s ROTC program and its outstanding accomplishments.

UNG, with an enrollment of about 20,000 is one of six senior military colleges in the nation. It is the only one that is an all Army program. It was founded in 1873.The Corps cadets number around 750 annually. It has produced over 100 second lieutenants annually for the past three years. About 57 percent of the corps cadets are on scholarships.

The 2019 class is comprised of 25 percent females, 25 percent racial or ethnic minorities and 22 percent out-of-state students, according to Wright.

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The table of the missing soldier at the NGV annual dinner at the Big Canoe clubhouse. PHOTO BY BRAD HERREN

The top five academic majors within the corps are criminal justice, business, strategic and security studies, computer science, cyber security and nursing. Nineteen percent of the majors are science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with degrees in biology, chemistry, physics, math and the university’s newest program, cyber security, according to Wright.

“The University of North Georgia will be a cyber institute of excellence in the coming years and that program is unbelievable,” Wright said. “Think about this: we recruit high school seniors, juniors and sophomores into a summer program to see what they can hack into. And a lot of them do it. They are also taught ethical hacking.”

The ROTC program supports seven international internship programs specifically designed for UNG cadets. Annually cadets travel to 13 countries to attend conferences, training and various competitions, according to Wright.

“We are working on a new partnership with a Korean military academy in South Korea,” he said.

“We are home to eight language scholarships,” Wright said. “We are also the only Chinese flagship program in the nation. So, think about this: If you take a cyber security major and pair them with a strategic language like Chinese or Russian or Arabic or Farsi, how marketable is that young man or woman in the Army or other government service?”

This year there are 19 cadets in the Chinese flagship program, Wright said.

To increase the annual number of cadets from 750 to 850, the university is building a new military leadership building for classroom instruction as well as an obstacle course and physical training course, totaling about $9.6 million in capital investment.

“During the 2019 summer training where we send our rising seniors to field testing at Fort Knox,” Wright said, “we sent 122, the largest number we have ever sent. Twenty-one percent of those received an outstanding or top rating. Another 38 percent received an excellent rating. That means that 67 of the UNG cadets have been designated as distinguished military graduates. They rank in the top 20 percent nationally of their peers. In addition to that 18 were ranked in the top 10 percent nationally. That is out of 274 programs across the nation or about 6,000 cadets.

UNG cadets have won the Ranger Challenge Team conference competition, the Army ROTC’s varsity sport, five times in the past six years, according to Wright. At the national competition hosted at West Point, UNG won the ROTC National Championship Cup two years in a row. This year two teams from UNG won the Spark Ranger Challenge at Fort Knox, first and second place. Internationally they have finished third and fourth.

Wright also lauded UNG for its involvement in the community.

“This program earned the Association of the United States Army 2019 award for best community support out of a large ROTC program,” he said. “That means they are involved in the community, volunteering in the community and are doing great things in the community. This year the program was also named the General Douglas MacArthur Award recipient for the best senior military college program in the nation. So, yes, we beat The Citadel, VMI, Virginia Tech, and Texas A&M.”

Wright acknowledged the role that veterans, such as those attending the annual NGV dinner, can play in recruiting young men and women for UNG.

“You as a body of established veterans can help us attract scholar athletes who are looking to serve a purpose greater than themselves. The man or woman who is physically fit, who is academically stimulated and who is looking to do something beyond where they are. You could just point those kids to us. We have a wonderful amount of opportunity just waiting for them to take it.”

In closing, Wright thanked the NGV for inviting him to its annual dinner, calling it a wonderful setting and an amazing collection of veterans from across our services.

“It is very humbling and honoring to be here with you,” he said.

The North Georgia Veterans Chorus, under the direction of Bob Montgomery with Janet Larson on piano closed the dinner event with “An American Medley” and The Navy Hymn. Montgomery is retiring from his director position and was honored with the gift of a North Georgia Veterans commemorative coin.

Outgoing NGV president Peter Vallone passed the gavel to new president Jay Misback in a brief opening ceremony.

Also in attendance from UNG were Major Allen Edens, assistant professor of Military Science, SGM Vaughn Overton, Chief Military Science Instructor, Cadet /MAJ Josh Medina, Cadet/MSG Jade Haney, Cadet/SFC Ayomide Adekola and Cadet/SSG Zaria Whitehead. 

North Georgia Veterans welcomes active duty and honorably discharged members of all branches of U.S. military. Lunch meetings are held on the second Wednesday each month in Mountains Grille at The Clubhouse at Lake Sconti. There is no cost to join. Meetings start at 11:30 a.m. and include a $17 buffet lunch and program. Application can be made online at ngvets.org.

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Outgoing NGV President Peter Vallone makes opening remarks at the North Georgia Veterans annual dinner. PHOTO BY WAYNE TIDWELL

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