New Commissioned Officers Hailed for Commitment to Service

News subtitle

David Appleton ’24 and Brian Zheng ’24 are sworn in as Army second lieutenants.

Sara Appleton pins second lieutenant bars on her son David
Sara Appleton pins second lieutenant bars on the Army uniform of her son, David Appleton ’24, as 2nd Lt. Ian Short assists. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Family, friends, and supporters on Saturday joined military officials and CNN anchor Jake Tapper ’91 to witness and celebrate the commissioning of two graduating seniors as Army second lieutenants.

The two seniors who received their commissions during the ceremony at Loew Auditorium were David Appleton ’24, a mathematics major from Mattapoisett, Mass., and Brian Zheng ’24, a government major modified with politics, philosophy, and economics and with minors in environmental studies and Hispanic studies.

Appleton will serve as an active duty field artillery officer upon completion of the Field Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course in Fort Sill, Okla.

Zheng, who is the valedictory speaker at Commencement on Sunday, will serve as an active duty field artillery officer and will be stationed in Germany upon completion of the field artillery course as well.

Joshua Kresowaty commissioning Brian Zheng
Army Capt. Joshua Kresowaty administers the oath commissioning Brian Zheng ’24 as a second lieutenant in the Army. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Professor of Government Lisa Baldez welcomed the cadets, families, and friends at the start of the ceremony, noting that her two sons are both Dartmouth graduates and her eldest, Joe Carey ’15, a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, received his officer commission during Dartmouth graduation weekend nine years ago.

Baldez welcomed Appleton and Zheng’s loved ones into the community of Dartmouth military families and she applauded the new officers for stepping up to serve.

“To David and Brian, thank you for the impact you’ve had on the Dartmouth campus. Thank you for the commitment you’re making to leading your soldiers and to protecting our nation. I welcome you into the long and proud history of Dartmouth graduates who have served in the United States military,” Baldez said.

Speaking at the ceremony shortly after world leaders celebrated the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Tapper named three Dartmouth alumni who landed on the beaches of Normandy and linked the service of the Greatest Generation with the task ahead of the newly minted Army second lieutenants.

Tapper recalled the words of the late Dartmouth President Emeritus James Wright, a Marine veteran and a lifelong advocate for veterans at Dartmouth and beyond, who reflected that the World War II generation’s legacy was their willingness to take on history’s heavy burden without falling prey to cynicism and bitterness.

Jake Tapper addressing ceremony attendees
CNN Anchor Jake Tapper ’91, a Dartmouth trustee, addresses attendees at the ceremony. He said the country was lucky to have people like Zheng and Appleton defending democracy. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

“They surely did not seek the task that they had taken on, but they did not turn away from it. And that finally is all that we can ask of any generation,” said Tapper, quoting Wright. The Dartmouth trustee and lead Washington anchor for CNN then turned to the new officers.

The world today needs a new generation willing to take on the heavy burden of defending democracy, Tapper told them. 

“I look at you two and I think of the thought that so many before me have said: Where do we get such young people? How are we so lucky in this country that we have an Appleton and a Zheng before us?” 

Army Capt. Joshua Kresowaty, military science instructor affiliated with the Dartmouth ROTC program, also highlighted Dartmouth’s long-standing relationship with the military from the earliest days of the republic.

“Dartmouth leaders continuously volunteer to serve and have led soldiers through every major conflict in American history, a tradition continuing today as we commission two more Army officers, David Appleton and Brian Zheng.” 

Kresowaty then called on families and friends to stand with their cadet before calling “attention to orders” and invited them to pin the bars—the insignia of their new rank—on the shoulders of the new second lieutenants. 

Pinning the bars on Appleton were his mother, Sara Appleton, and 2nd Lt. Ian Short from the Dartmouth ROTC cadre. Pinning the bars on Zheng were his mother, Lan Yin, and his brother Bill Zheng ’26.

Kresowaty then administered the oath commissioning Appleton and Zheng as U.S. Army second lieutenants.

The new officers received their first salute from Sgt. 1st Class Jordan Carlson, part of the ROTC cadre. The first salute, acknowledging the respect due their new rank, is a military tradition going back to Colonial times. And for more than 200 years, the new officers have responded by shaking the hand and passing a silver dollar to the person who saluted them. 

Then the audience of students, family, friends, and faculty stood for the singing of The Army Song at the close of the proceedings. As the singing concluded, the graduates and officers greeted their guests and joined in hugs and photos.

The Dartmouth Class of 2024 Commissioned Officers

David Appleton ’24—Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army

Appleton participated in ROTC since freshman year as a four-year national scholarship recipient. He is a distinguished military graduate and commissions as a field artillery officer. He was a member of the cross country and track teams at Dartmouth where he was named to the Academic All-Ivy Team this spring and was Second Team All-Ivy for the distance medley relay in the winter. He worked as a research assistant with the Gelb Applied Mathematics Lab and volunteered at the Rhode Island Free Clinic and My Brother’s Keeper throughout his time in college.

Brian Zheng ’24—Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army

Zheng entered Dartmouth Army ROTC as a four-year national scholarship recipient after graduating from Naperville North High School in Naperville, Ill. He is a distinguished military graduate, graduating in the top 10% of Army ROTC cadets nationwide. He will serve as an active duty field artillery officer and will be stationed in Germany. On campus, Zheng was the president of the Dartmouth Cords a cappella group, co-president of the campus Sexual Assault Peer Alliance, and a member of Alpha Chi Alpha.

Bill Platt