|Top CSUF Army ROTC Cadet Wants to Save Lives
Peers chose James Griffith as the cadet who they would want in charge if faced with a life-or-death situation in war.
Story by Mimi Ko Cruz
June 15, 2006 :: No. 275
James A. Griffith kept getting passed over for promotions
at a luxury department store where he worked as a mid-level
manager, so he decided it was time to go to college and hone
his leadership skills.
He was taking classes at Orange Coast College when terrorists
attacked the World Trade Center and war broke out in the
Middle East. That's when his educational aspirations
Griffith transferred to Cal State Fullerton in 2002 as a
political science major and considered joining the military.
"After 9-11 and after the U.S. got involved in Afghanistan
and then Iraq, I remember I kept seeing the names of dead
privates scroll on the TV," he said. "That was
the point when I decided I wanted to save men and bring them
He joined CSUF's Army ROTC in 2004 and graduated this
month with a bachelor's degree in political science.
Last month, Griffith completed the ROTC program as the top
cadet and received his second lieutenant commission. He now
is at Fort Lewis in Washington, where he is continuing his
Army training before heading to Fort Benning in Georgia for
a basic officer leadership course and then more training
at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. On Jan. 30, 2007, he will
be heading to his permanent station as a military police
officer in Fort Bragg, N.C. until he gets orders to deploy.
As the No. 1 cadet at CSUF, Griffith received a George C.
Marshall Award and an Omar Bradley Award. In addition, his
peers chose him as the cadet who they would want in charge
if faced with a life or death situation in war. The honor,
a National Sojourner Award, came with a saber statue and
a 9mm Beretta pistol.
"James is a perfect example of an inspiring, successful
Army officer because he knows what it takes to be a successful
leader," said Lt. Col. Billy Howard, coordinator of
CSUF's military science program. "As the cadet
battalion commander during the spring semester, he clearly
demonstrated his ability to command, direct and lead by example.
James has unlimited potential to achieve the highest ranks
in the military."
Griffith, 29, who is engaged to his high school sweetheart,
said he hopes to work as an Army police officer for 20 years
before retiring and pursuing a staff job with an elected
official in Congress.
"I would enjoy writing legislation," Griffith
said, adding that those who want to get ahead in their jobs
and realize their dreams should consider college.
"From my own personal experience, I think that if you
don't have higher education, you reach a ceiling that
you can no longer get up and over in any career," he
said. "I think everybody should try to go to school.
I started at Antelope Valley College in 1993 and kept quitting
so I know it's hard to keep plugging away, but don't
get discouraged. If you keep it up, you'll achieve your
Billy Howard, Military Science, 657-278-5768 or email@example.com
Mimi Ko Cruz, Public Affairs, 657-278-7586 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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