GGC contracts first cadet through its ROTC program

A 26-year-old exercise science major from Puerto Rico became Georgia Gwinnett College’s first cadet to sign a commissioned officer contract with the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

A 26-year-old exercise science major from Puerto Rico became Georgia Gwinnett College’s first cadet to sign a commissioned officer contract with the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

Cadet Jose Targa was officially contracted by the U.S. Army during swearing in ceremonies held on the Lawrenceville campus Wednesday afternoon.  The ceremonies mark Targa’s agreement to continue his ROTC training over the next two years and to accept an assignment as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army upon successful completion of his training and graduation from GGC.

More than 60 of Targa’s fellow cadets stood at attention during the brief ceremony, which was attended by several army officers, Targa’s wife Daniela Targa, and GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman, himself a brigadier general in the U.S. Army.

“I am proud of him for the service he’s already given, and for the choice he has made to lead – at GGC and in the Army,” said Kaufman. “It’s a choice to serve others, regardless of what it might entail. I look forward to seeing him at the commissioning ceremony, in two years.”

The service to which Dr. Kaufman referred was Targa’s 2009 deployment to Afghanistan, where he served as a staff sergeant for the National Guard’s 48th Brigade, 121st Infantry out of Georgia. A Guardsman since he was 19, Targa said his year in that war-torn country gave him a perspective he will need as a future commissioned officer.

“When you are in a combat situation, you are pushed in ways you’ve never been pushed before,” said Targa, a Lawrenceville resident. “I had to become a leader when the bullets were flying because people were depending on me.”

Targa’s superior officers had high praise for their newest officer recruit, who successfully competed against more than 20 other cadets – at GGC and in the University System of Georgia - to become a commissioned officer candidate.

“We evaluate our candidates based on scholarship, athleticism and leadership,” said Maj. Kevin  S. Fracassa, the scholarship and enrollment officer for GGC’s ROTC program. “Cadet Targa has proven himself in all of those areas.”

A native of Puerto Rico, Targa grew up in Chicago where he had no knowledge of military service until he was sent to a summer camp at St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy at the age of 14. From the minute he arrived, Targa was hooked. Four years later, he graduated from St. John’s with his heart set on a military career.

“I’ll be wearing my uniform for as long as God gives me the grace to wear it,” he said. “This was the right choice for me, and for my family.”

Flickr photo gallery of first cadet contracted through ROTC program

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