NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s Department of Military Science and the Northwestern Demon Regiment hosted the 2022 Regimental Ball April 23, honoring cadets and alumni of NSU’s U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps.
In keeping with military tradition, graduating cadets who will soon commission as officers in the U.S. Army were presented under an arch of steel to begin the event. The posting of the colors, invocation, toasts, acknowledgements of the Fallen Soldier’s Table and streamer ceremony complemented the formal military program.
Battalion Commander Cadet Anthony B. Cantrell was named the 2022 winner of the MG (R) Erbon W. Wise Touchstone Award and the 2022 Legacy Cadet for the 72nd Demon Battalion. He offered remarks on his experience coming from a military family, attending NSU as a track and field student-athlete and earning his degree in criminal justice before joining ROTC while pursuing a master’s degree in homeland security.
“As Legacy Cadet, my legacy is the work that you do to continue to foster the amazing environment we have developed for ourselves in the Demon Battalion. Push the limits of what you can do and be the best version of yourself. In doing so you will build your own legacy,” Cantrell said.
COL Edward S. Twaddell III, deputy commander of Operations Group for the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, provided the keynote address. In his remarks, he recognized Brigadier General Susie Kuilan, U.S. Army Reserve who earned degrees in mass media communications, English and strategic studies at Northwestern State. She has served in the Army since 1989 and held a variety of Quartermaster, Military Police, Observer/Controller, and Training Support positions.
Twaddell told the cadets to be proud of their accomplishments, be humble and never stop learning.
“I look out at you and I know that the Army and the nation that I have served for the last quarter century is in good hands,” Twaddell said. “Always remember that, as officers, you have the incredible privilege, honor of leading, and, more importantly, of caring for this country’s most precious treasure – its sons and daughters. That is no small burden, nor insignificant matter, but it is one of the most gratifying things I can possibly imagine, and you have my enduring thanks and admiration for raising your hands and volunteering to do so.”
LTC Joshua Drake, professor of military science, introduced special guest MAJ (R)Ron Chatelain, Louisiana’s most decorated soldier. Chatelain holds the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars and five Purple Hearts.
Inductees into the Demon Regiment Hall of Fame were also recognized with LTC Arthur Smalley, Demon Regiment Chief of Staff, presenting the honors. This year’s honorees are COL Katherine M. Bigler, COL Rick Fenoli, COL Eric D. Sweeney and MAJ Richard Hooter.
Bigler served three years in the enlisted ranks prior to joining Northwestern’s ROTC program. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and was commissioned in May 1978. After obtaining her Juris Doctor from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, she was branched U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
Bigler served as the Assistant Command Judge Advocate, U.S. Army Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, before leaving active duty. She served in the Army Reserve with the 2nd Judge Advocate Detachment, New Orleans, and maintained a civil law practice. She returned to active duty as the Assistant Command Judge Advocate, HHC ARPERCEN, St. Louis, Missouri.
Bigler was later assigned to the U.S. Army War College, Senior Service Fellowship, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, with duty in Boston. Her final military assignment was U.S. Army Reserve Advisor, The Judge Advocate General, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. With 30 years of service, Bigler retired from active duty in 2005. Since retirement, she and her husband, John G. Kramb, have been co-owners of Adams County Winery, in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania, the fifth oldest winery in the state.
Fenoli, a Distinguished Military Graduate, was commissioned in 1986 in the Louisiana Army National Guard. He received an Army active duty assignment to 1st Battalion, 39th Field Artillery Regiment (Airborne), 18th Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and served as a Platoon Leader during Operation Desert Shield/Storm, follow by assignments as Service Battery Executive Officer, and Adjutant. He commanded 1st Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment (Airborne), deploying to Operation Iraqi Freedom while commanding Forward Operating Base Marez and Forward Operating Base Diamondback in Mosul, Iraq.
At the Pentagon, Fenoli served as the Joint Lessons Learned Branch Chief, stood up the DoD Joint Lessons Learned Information System, served as a Battle Captain in the National Military Command and Control Center and Deputy Division Chief of the Training and Exercise Branch on the Chairman’s Joint Staff J7. He then deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom as the Director of Recruit Training and Commandant of the Kabul Military Training Center, Afghanistan. Fenoli and his wife, Cherie, are retired career military patriots.
Sweeney graduated from Northwestern in December 1986 with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology. He was designated a Distinguished Military Graduate and commissioned in the US Army Engineer Corps. His initial assignment was as an electrical engineer with the 4013th Garrison Support Unit, before attending the Engineer Officer Basic Course and the Basic Airborne Course. He held positions as a Platoon Leader; Executive Officer, and Assistant Operations Officer with the 194th Armored Brigade prior to completing the Engineer Officer Advance Course.
Sweeney served with the 101st Airborne Division’s initial entry forces during Operation Enduring Freedom I & II and the 82nd Airborne Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II.
After 26 years, he retired from active service in October 2013. He holds a Ph.D. from LaSalle University and is the Director of Army Instruction for the JROTC units of 10 Caddo Parish schools. Additionally, he is the Area DAI for all North Louisiana high schools. He and his wife, Maya, have a daughter, Amaya, and son, Eric II.
Hooter, holding numbers three in the nation and one in the state of Louisiana, was drafted into the Army 1970. He served in Vietnam with the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) and was honorably discharge in 1971. In 1972, Hooter enrolled at Northwestern for the 2-year ROTC program and graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts in Military Science and Education Administration. He was designated a Distinguished Military Graduate and commissioned in the US Army Infantry.
He has served as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Scout Platoon Leader, Aero Rifle Platoon Leader and Company Commander, and Post Commander, Fort DeRussy, Hawaii. His final assignment was Chief, Maneuver Branch, US Army Engineer School, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, until his retirement in July 1992.
Since 1996, Hooter has engaged as a professional bass angler and fished four BFL All-American Tournaments. He has been a valuable member of the Demon Regiment Executive Council since 2010 as the Regimental Operations Officer and Marketing Officer. He and his wife, JoAnn, have two sons and three grandchildren.
A commissioning ceremony for Northwestern State’s graduating ROTC cadets who will take the oath as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 12 in the Teacher Education Center Auditorium on the NSU campus. A reception will follow. Guests are asked to RSVP by calling (318) 357-6951.
Information on NSU’s Department of Military Science is available at https://rotc.nsula.edu/.