NEWTON, NJ- An American flag, donated to the Town of Newton will be flown on May 15 to honor the accomplishments and commissioning of Newton High School alumnus Andrew Cooney.

Cooney will be commissioning as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army as he prepares to graduate from Loyola University.  Cooney has earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Political Science with a double minor in Spanish and Latin American Studies.

A distinguished ROTC Cadet, Cooney received a full scholarship for his four years at the Maryland university. During his time serving in the Grayhound battalion, Cooney earned a number of military and academic awards.  He was Captain of the Ranger Challenge team in his junior year, served as a member of the battalion color guard as well as participating in volunteer and recruiting events.

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Cooney attended a CULP mission to Paragua and graduated as the Distinguished Honor graduate from his class at the Sabalausi Air Assault school in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

“I joined ROTC because I knew I wanted to server in the United States Army as an officer and I realized that ROTC would provide me the opportunity to do that with the added bonus of being able to select a four-year university of my choosing for my education,” Cooney said.

Earning full ROTC scholarship to attend the college of choice is a competitive endeavor.  Academics play a large role in being selected along with fitness and character.  A full ROTC scholarship includes tuition, room and board as well as funds for books and equipment each semester and a monthly stipend, in return for a four-year commitment in the military after graduation.

Understanding many are unfamiliar with the ROTC program, Cooney compared it to being a varsity athlete.  The athlete is foremost a student.  The participation on the team evolves as the student moves through the four years on campus, with opportunities presented commensurate with the skills, dedication and preparedness of the team member. 

Continuing the analogy, physical fitness is paramount and training takes place during the school year and in the summer.  Benchmarks must be met and tests passed to maintain the scholarship and stay on track to graduate and commission.

Many ROTC cadets have additional opportunities for specialized training or other career related experiences in the summer months after freshmen and sophomore years.  In the summer after junior year cadets attend Advance Camp, to hone skills and be evaluated for post graduation placement.

Following his commissioning Cooney will attend Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course … at Fort Benning, Georgia.  After the first four- six weeks of IBOLC Cooney will find out where he will go when IBOLC is completed. 

“My number one priority is being the best Second Lieutenant I can be,” Cooney said.  “I am focused on physically and mentally preparing for IBOLC and ultimately, Ranger School.”

Cooney said he is considered “Branch Detailed” to the Infantry.  He will serve a maximum of 48 months with an infantry officer “11A MOS.” From there he will be transferred to become a Military Intelligence Officer. 

“My willingness to serve in the Army stems from both my family history as well as a belief in doing something bigger than myself,” Cooney said. “Many members of my family, including my father, have served in the military and that was the driving force in my understanding on what it means to be involved in an organization dedicated to selfless service.  When I realized I also wanted to be a part of that type of organization I knew the Army was the right fit.”

Cooney is the youngest in a long line of military tradition in his family, which includes his paternal and maternal grandfathers, who fought in opposite theaters during World War II, his uncle, who served in Vietnam and his father who served six years Active Duty as an Army Dog Handler.

As IBOLC ends, Cooney will be considered for a slot in Ranger School.  That will likely be sometime in January 2021. 

Cooney was asked to be a part of Cadet Command’s National Commissioning Ceremony on June 12.