University inaugurates Naval ROTC program
By RYAN MEEHAN
TAMPA -- The timing couldn't have been better for 17-year-old Bill Young.
The Virginia high school senior, who spent four years in his school's junior Naval ROTC program, will become one of the first students to enroll in the University of South Florida's new Naval ROTC program next fall.
His personal connections aren't bad, either.
Young is the son of Florida Rep. C.W. Bill Young, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who last year got USF $1-million to kick-start the new program.
Secretary of the Navy Gordon England came to USF Monday to officially inaugurate the program, which educates and trains men and women for military service as commissioned officers.
"For 226 years, the enduring strength of this military has been its people," England said in a speech to a crowd of more than 100 people, including USF president Judy Genshaft.
Genshaft called the new program a visible indicator that USF is playing a major role in national defense.
England said afterward that a naval unit at USF would fit well in the Tampa community.
"This is a military state," he said. "We want to be in a place where people want us, and that was the case at the University of South Florida."
The addition of the Naval ROTC makes USF one of the few universities in the nation to boast all three military ROTC programs, England said.
The new program will be led by Capt. Richard Dick, who came from the University of South Carolina, where he headed that school's NROTC program.
Dick said he has five students who are interested in the program and hopes to get 10 to 15 more before the start of the fall semester. There will be both a four-year and two-year track, he said.
The program was part of the 2002 Defense Appropriations Bill, which netted USF $9-million for its Joint Biological and Chemical Terrorism Response project and $2.5-million for its Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance Research program.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach is receiving about $1-million to start up a similar Naval ROTC program, Young said.
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