Armstrong ROTC Cadet Ranked No. 10 in the Nation

Army ROTC cadets around the country take pause each fall for the release of the national Order of Merit List (OML) that ranks the performance of all ROTC seniors across the country. The news made public in September resonated loudly on the Armstrong campus and shone a bright spotlight on current student and Army veteran, Cadet Michael Wayne Holly. A liberal arts major, Holly was ranked number 10 on the OML from among more than 5,600 graduating cadets across the nation.

Col. Roger L. Cloutier, deputy commanding general of the Third Infantry Division at nearby Fort Stewart, met Holly on campus to congratulate him and shake his hand the morning after the news broke. Cloutier later told local CBS affiliate WTOC that Holly is an example of “the best that America has to offer. That excites me. Here's a young man who came from humble beginnings, enlisted in the army, deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, comes back with ROTC and is ranked in the top ten of 5,600 cadets across America.”

A veteran who served with the Army in Afghanistan and later with the National Guard as a platoon sergeant in Iraq and Kuwait, Holly was among the first in his family to graduate high school. He is quick to admit that the Army has taught him valuable lessons. Chief among them is learning to take personal responsibility. “When things are not working out, you need to take a look at what you can do to change your situation,” he said. “Some things you just can't hold others responsible for.”

Raised in Port Lavaca on the Texas Gulf Coast, Holly graduated high school in 2000. He worked as a deckhand on a shrimp boat for a year before enlisting in the Army knowing little about the Armed Forces. He was stationed in Hawaii for three years before being called into active duty to Afghanistan. His wife, Lurline Holly, serves as a signal officer at Fort Stewart.

“This honor serves as a reaffirmation that I'm headed in the right direction and that I'm on track to become a better leader,” he said. After graduating from Armstrong in 2011, he plans to become a history teacher or perhaps teach at an ROTC program. “I believe I have a good ability to work with people of all backgrounds.”

Maj. Dandrell A. Pernell, head of ROTC on campus, joins the rest of the Armstrong community in a collective sense of pride about Holly.

“He has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills and we're proud for everything that he has accomplished and the service he has provided to his country.”