Lucye Rafferty/The Hoya The National Defense Preparedness Association recently awarded US Army Major Donald E. Vandergriff the Col. Leo A. Codd Memorial Award, recognizing him as the most outstanding Army ROTC instructor.

Major Donald E. Vandergriff, Deputy Director of the Hoya Battalion of the Reserve Officer Training Corps, received the National Defense Preparedness Association’s Col. Leo A. Codd emorial Award, recognizing him as the year’s most outstanding Army ROTC instructor in the country.

The distinction, presented to Vandergriff on April 25, is awarded each year to an instructor within each branch of the armed services that has a ROTC program. Vandergriff said that he received the award for being the person “who contributed most to not just ROTC, but to the Army.” This is the first time an officer from Georgetown’s Hoya Battalion has won the award.

Vandergriff has worked with the Hoya Battalion for four years, serving as an Operations officer, a leader of the Ranger Challenge Team, an organizer of the Tactical Decision Games and an instructor for cadets in their junior years, otherwise known as Military Science Cadet 3 or M.S. 3. In training the M.S. 3 section, Vandergriff is responsible for lessons in land navigation, basic rifle marksmanship, tactics and training logistics. He currently serves as the deputy director of the battalion.

Each year, ROTC programs from across the nation submit packets of evaluation and recommendation, nominating officers involved in the training of cadets for the Codd Award. Vandergriff’s award winning techniques are innovative in that he integrates strategies usually employed at the graduate level.

The officers of the Hoya Battalion are excited by the recognition Vandergriff’s award garners for the outfit.

Sgt. Jeff Roper, who has worked with Vandergriff in training the .S.3s for almost three years, said that Vandergriff was honored for this originality and inventiveness. “Thinking outside the box is what earned him that award. It is what bring our training to where it is,” Roper said.

Roper also sees long-term benefits stemming from Vandergriff’s achievement, since it gets information about the Hoya Battalion out into the public consciousness. “More kids will look to Georgetown for ROTC. If I were looking at different schools across the board I would see the caliber of instructors and that would persuade me,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vandergriff himself credits Roper with much of his success. “I attribute a lot of what I’m able to do to Sgt. Roper. We’ve got a great team,” he said. “I’ve got some crazy ideas, but he keeps them in reality.”

The Hoya Battalion is a coalition of six Washington area colleges and universities that come together to form one ROTC unit. The nearly 90 cadets hail from American University, Catholic University, George Washington University, the University of aryland, Marymount University and Georgetown. Georgetown makes up for over a third of the battalion with 36 cadets.

According to Roper, this unique set up presents challenges such as distance and traffic that other ROTC units do not have to face, since they are entirely located on one campus. This means that the administrative staff must be proactive in communicating with cadets and rely on e-mail and telephone when face-to-face contact is difficult. Instructors travel to individual campuses three days every week, but each Friday the entire Battalion comes together at Georgetown for physical training.

Vandergriff is also a widely respected and successful author. Recently, one of his books, “The Path to Victory: America’s Army and the Revolution in Human Affairs,” received the 2002 New York Military Affairs Symposium award for excellence in Military History. Other works Vandergriff has penned include “Spirit, Blood and Treasure: The American Cost of Battle in the Twenty-First Century” and numerous articles and he has been widely featured as an expert on military personnel structure in publications including The Washington Post, The Virginia Pilot, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, Defence Journal, The New Yorker and Army Times.

Vandergriff has served on active duty in South Korea, the Middle East and Germany and has lectured on his analysis of the army’s personnel system at Naval War College, The Marine Corps Command and Staff College, The National Defense University, The Swiss War College, The Center for Strategic Institutional Studies, The Naval Academy, The National Archives and numerous think-tanks.

Since the publishing of his widely renowned Path to Victory, Vandergriff has spent time briefing several high-ranking generals and members of Congress on his theories.

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