ROTC conference commemorates late cadets
A panel of UH and ROTC alumni, administration officials, and community leaders were informed of the UH Army ROTC program’s accomplishments from the last calendar year as well as their plans for the future during the second annual UH Army ROTC Community Leader and Educator Conference. At the end of the conference, held Tuesday at Hofheinz Pavilion, the Memorial Wall Ceremony honored the memory of cadets Benjamin Jones, William Besmar and James Morris III.
Lt. Col. Michael J. Smith, commander of the Houston Battalion Army ROTC and military science professor, led the conference and ceremony. After a short video presentation covering the history of the program, the conference detailed the program’s past accomplishments.
Among these accomplishments were the acquisition of 40 acres of land behind the Energy Research Park from the University, which the program currently uses for its cadets’ tactical training; the re-establishment of the Cullen Rifles competition drill and shooting team; its selection by the U.S. Army as a designated “growth program,” one of seven in the nation; and its incoming class of more than 50 freshman who will enter the program in Fall 2014 with four-year scholarships.
“These cadets have the same dreams Ben did; we want to help them achieve these dreams,” said Amy Whitton, Jones’ sister. “When we look for a cadet to award the scholarship to, we look for a cadet who exemplifies Ben’s desires, someone who is goal oriented and who has the drive.”
The Jones and Besmar families set up scholarship programs that award cadets in the ROTC program.
“I think this memorial is great because it leaves a legacy. Setting up the scholarship program supports the future leaders of America,” said ROTC human resources assistant Audrey Smith.
This is the 12th year that the Ben Jones scholarship will be awarded. Jones, who passed away after a car accident, was described as a focused and determined student.
He wanted to go into the Army and be a part of the FBI and Secret Service, said his mother Doris Jones.
The Besmar family set up a scholarship in remembrance of its son, William, who passed away due to a heart condition.
“William was provided with a scholarship during his time here,” said Sam Besmar, William’s father. “We would like to provide the same opportunity to other cadets that William was given.”
Morris, who passed away after attending his physical training, was also remembered during the ceremony. His friend, Amber Thorne, now a first lieutenant, who was with him the day of his passing, attended for his remembrance.
“After his passing, we had a really hard time getting James recognized,” Thorne said. “I’m really thankful that they did this ceremony to honor him.”