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Graduating automotive major commissioned as Army officer

A Pennsylvania College of Technology senior was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant in an outdoor ceremony held Saturday morning at the college.

Joined in person on the Bush Campus Center patio by family members and online by livestreaming well-wishers, Andrew Placencia, of Reading – a Bald Eagle Battalion ROTC cadet earning a degree in automotive technology management – will be branched into the Army Ordnance Corps.

Ana Coste pins gold bars onto the uniform of her son, Andrew Placencia, of Reading, during his commissioning as an Army second lieutenant in a Dec. 12 ceremony at Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Ana Coste pins gold bars onto the uniform of her son, Andrew Placencia, of Reading, during his commissioning as an Army second lieutenant in a Dec. 12 ceremony at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

“Military service represents the highest of callings, and on behalf of President Davie Jane Gilmour, we are honored to again see a Penn College alumnus on active duty leading American soldiers,” said Patrick Marty, an Army veteran and college chief of staff. “Army officers are expected to demonstrate both tactical and technical expertise, and the array of Army branches represented by our Year Group 2020 Penn College graduates – air defenders and engineers and cyber warriors … and, today, an ordnance officer – speaks well of the technical foundations that each of these lieutenants has developed while a student here.”

Marty told Placencia that the same talents and competencies that have earned him distinction – discipline, hard work and confident leadership – will be an asset to his commander, his unit, and to the troops he cares for and leads.

“And for an ordnance officer, the responsibilities are even more broad – and vital to the maneuver, combat support and special forces you serve,” he added. “The purpose of the Ordnance Corps is to develop, produce, acquire and support weapons systems, ammunition, missiles and ground mobility materiel – during peace and war – in order to provide combat power for the U.S. Army.  In short, providing service on the line, to the line.”

Penn College graduates are often referred to as “tomorrow makers,” Marty noted, because of the significant role they play in strengthening the nation’s workforce.

“You are poised to take that a step further,” he said to Placencia, “to demonstrate and refine the qualities and abilities that will serve you in good stead as an Army leader – and, if you choose, at some future date – as a leader in business and industry.

“Inspiring others and effectively managing resources are attributes that are highly valued – not only in the military, but in private industry and public life.  Army officers know how to motivate people and problem-solve.  More importantly, they demonstrate the values – duty, honor, loyalty, integrity, commitment, selflessness and respect – that are universally admired and desired.”

Lt. Col. John Acosta, a professor of military science and director of the battalion’s ROTC program, administered the oath to the lieutenant. The ceremony was emceed by Capt. Jeffery A. Hill, also a member of the ROTC faculty.

Placencia, termed "the nation's newest leader" during the morning ceremony, marks the occasion with his mother, Ana Coste, and brother, Frank Coste. He is holding an Army sword, presented this year as Penn College's first Patriot Award.
Placencia, termed “the nation’s newest leader” during the morning ceremony, marks the occasion with his mother, Ana Coste, and brother, Frank Coste. He is holding an Army sword, presented this year as Penn College’s first Patriot Award.

Placencia received his gold bars – signifying the transition from cadet to military officer – from his mother, Ana Coste, and his brother, Frank Coste. Returning his first salute, termed the “Silver Dollar Salute,” was Spc. Corey J. Carr, enrolled in building automation technology: heating, ventilation & air conditioning technology concentration (and an HVAC alumnus).

The new officer also is the first recipient of the Patriot Award, initiated this year to annually honor a current member of the military or a veteran of the armed forces who has enhanced the college experience for the veteran student community.

Placencia – a veteran of active duty, a current member of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and a contracted participant in the college’s ROTC program – has been a veteran services assistant in the college’s Veteran and Military Services office for three years. He also has been a resident assistant, as well as president and vice president of the Omega Delta Sigma veterans fraternity.

“If there is one thing that Andrew has brought to our team, it’s the ability to work well with the traditional student population as well as the ‘nontraditional’ veteran/military population,” said Chet Beaver, an Army veteran and the college’s coordinator of military and veterans affairs, who presented the award. “Andrew has the gift of being able to relate and befriend the 18-year-old freshman and the 40-year-old retired military veteran alike. He was instrumental in helping many veteran students open up to the ‘normal’ college life, as well as helping teach the ROTC cadets about what life in the Army will be like.”

Placencia was to receive the award at December’s commencement ceremony, for which he also was selected as student speaker, but the event was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions. His speech was recorded, however, and is available for online viewing by classmates and others.

The other members of the Bald Eagle Battalion are Lycoming College, and Lock Haven and Mansfield universities.

More information about the Penn College Army ROTC program is available by email.

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

– Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor


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