07/18/2016 | By Maj. Michelle Lunato 98th Training Division (IET) PAO
Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith, commanding general of the 98th Training Division (IET), stands with Charles W. Roffe, World War II and Korean War veteran who received two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star respectively, after a half-time ceremony at a University of Oregon Duck football game on April 30. During the ceremony, Smith presented Roffe, a fellow alumni and #ROTC cadet, with a flag to honor him for his service and to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ROTC program. “Chuck” Roffe started his military career here at Fort Benning’s Infantry school and then served with the 10th Mountain Division (WWII) and the 25th Infantry Division (Korea). Courtesy photo
There was a moment when she seriously considered getting out of the Army. However, she stayed in and now, she’s an Army Reserve division commander and a National Army Reserve Officer Training Corps Hall of Fame graduate.
Looking back to where her military career all started, Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith, commander of the 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training), returned to her alma mater, University of Oregon, for their spring football game and ROTC 100th anniversary celebration on April 30.
During the game, Smith was acknowledged for her military accomplishments and inducted into the National Army ROTC Hall of Fame by University President Michael Schill.
Smith, a 1986 graduate, said most people are surprised by the amount of officers who hail from the college. “The University of Oregon doesn’t seem like it would be a source for military officers, but it is the values that we grow up with in Oregon that make it a natural transition into the military.”
The university’s ROTC program certainly shows strong statistics for transitioning students into Soldiers with over 3,500 officers commissioned. This includes turning out 47 flag officers. Out of those 47, Smith is the first female general officer.
With those numbers, the university’s ROTC program, which is ranked 1 out of 30 within the 8th ROTC Brigade, has come to expect excellence from its graduates, according to a school document.
“Those who participate in Army ROTC and subsequently serve as Army officers develop leadership and managerial skills that last a lifetime.”
Strong values and proficient leadership skills helped Smith throughout her military career, but she also attributes some of her success to her home state. “There’s a bit of rugged independence associated with being an Oregonian.”
Rugged or not, the visit back home touched the general’s heart. “Being nominated was a bit overwhelming, and I could not be more humbled.”
While Smith was humbled, her wife, Tracey Hepner, was filled with joy. “It filled my heart with pride and brought tears to my eyes. I know how much this means to her and what an honor it was to be recognized in front of her hometown.”
Being inducted into the Hall of Fame at home and in front of her spouse and father was such a meaningful event. However, it was not even the best part of the day, said Smith.
The highlight came at halftime when Smith had the privilege of honoring fellow veteran and alumni, 1st Lt. (Ret.) Charles W. Roffe, during a flag folding ceremony. As senior member, Smith was the Soldier to present the flag to the World War II and Korean War veteran who received two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star respectively.
“Chuck” Roffe, a 1944 graduate, started his military career in the same ROTC program as Smith. After that, he went on to Infantry school at Fort Benning, Ga., which is where Smith’s division is currently headquartered.
These links gave Smith a moment of reflection as her and her fellow ROTC graduate stood where both of their careers began and rendered their salutes to their country. “I teared up when he saluted the flag. I knew I was witnessing a true hero extend honor to our nation’s color, and I felt very proud to know that I was connected to him through both the Army and the University of Oregon.”