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Old Main hosts Navy tradition: Change of Command

Arizona State’s Naval Change of Command ceremony
December 12, 2013

Old Main on the Tempe campus often serves as a backdrop for many diverse activities for members of the Arizona State University community. Recently, the Naval ROTC program hosted a Change of Command ceremony on the Old Main Lawn.

A change of command is a military tradition that can trace its roots to the Roman Army. It represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding officer to another. The passing of colors from an outgoing commander to an incoming, in front of the assembled troops, stands as a visual symbol that the unit is never without official leadership.

The ASU naval ceremony is particularly rich in tradition and custom, and can trace many of its traditions to the Royal Navy and the Age of Sail.

On Dec. 5, the midshipmen of the ASU Naval ROTC’s Sea Devil Battalion continued this long-standing tradition. The off-going battalion commanding officer, Midshipman 1/C Michael Swahn, was relieved by Midshipman Rachelle Edwards, who took charge of the Naval ROTC battalion as battalion commanding officer for the Spring 2014 semester.

Swahn, a senior in engineering management, said about his time as the senior midshipman in the Sea Devil Battalion: “Having the privilege of watching ASU NROTC grow from the ground up to one of the largest units in the nation has been an absolutely amazing experience. Then having the opportunity to act as the midshipmen battalion commanding officer was such an honor. I learned and grew as a leader and had an absolute blast in the process. I have all the confidence in the new command coming in that they will continue to point ASU NROTC in the right direction and we will continue to produce well-qualified naval officers.”

Edwards said about assuming her responsibilities: “As a plank owner for the unit, I have seen it – and myself – grow and mature over the years, and I am so honored to be chosen as the battalion commanding officer. I hope that I may follow in the footsteps of those that have come before me, and continue to lead our Sea Devil Battalion into the upper echelons of NROTC units across the country.”

Along with the change in commanding officer, Midshipman 1/C Amanda DeArmond was named the battalion executive officer, relieving last semester’s leader Midshipman 1/C Christopher Linich.

Linich said about his service: “This past semester as battalion XO has been a blur. As a battalion, we have grown to over twice our initial size, and because of that, the staff needed has grown as well. At times, it was hard to corral such a large staff, but in the end I am extremely pleased with what we accomplished as a team. I am excited to pass on the torch to Midshipman DeArmond, not just because I know that she will do a magnificent job, but because, let's be honest, I need a break!"  

DeArmond replied, “I am looking forward to the challenges and rewards as the battalion executive officer. I hope to continue the standard of excellence put forth by my predecessors.” 

All naval operations are a culmination of many people’s efforts, and this Change of Command was no different. Getting this many midshipmen uniforms for their first-ever parade in Service Dress Blue was only possible through the diligent efforts of Jerry Carnahan, the unit’s supply technician. And training them in small-unit drill in order to parade in public was no small feat either. The unit’s Marine Corps drill instructors put in many early morning hours with the midshipmen on the practice fields.

This semester ASU Naval ROTC is fortunate to have been assigned an additional drill instructor in the person of Staff Sergeant Timothy Garcia, who comes to the Valley of the Sun from his previous duty station at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center 29 Palms, where he served as the battalion ammunition chief. He says of his new duties, “It is great to be here, and I look forward to developing future officers in the Navy and Marine Corps." 

As was evident at this event, with Garcia and the senior drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Daniel Martinez training the midshipmen, ASU can look forward to plenty more excellent parades in front of Old Main.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Captain Dave Price, the commanding officer of the Naval ROTC unit told the gathered midshipmen, “Thanks for putting on such a good show this evening. I’m proud to be associated with you. Go Devils!”

The Naval ROTC unit in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State was established in 2010 and has since grown to be one of the largest in the nation. Learn more about the program and how to apply for scholarships that lead to a commission as an officer in the Navy or Marine Corps at