Nathan Reitzel, a senior political science, pre-professional legal studies major from Newton, was awarded the inaugural Austin Shilling Memorial Scholarship for the 2017–18 academic year. The award was created by First Lieutenant Shilling’s family in 2017 to honor his memory.
Reitzel currently serves as cadet command sergeant major in the Mountaineer Battalion and aspires to become an army officer.
“App’s ROTC program has helped me develop leadership skills through daily interaction with cadre who have been a part of Special Operations and others who are skilled combat veterans who act as our mentors and teachers,” stated Reitzel. “I was not fortunate enough to meet First Lieutenant Shilling, but he was a signal officer and I share that same aspiration to become a signal officer in the United States Army.”
Shilling, whose numerous awards include the Bronze Star and National Defense Service Medals, also spent much time honing his leadership skills at Appalachian before deploying to Afghanistan for nine months. While overseas, he served as the platoon signal officer before his promotion to platoon leader, where he served as the officer in charge for 20 soldiers.
In addition to developing leadership skills, members of the Mountaineer Battalion share a special bond – not only with fellow Appalachian cadets, but with ROTC alumni as well. In this spirit, Shilling’s family created a scholarship in his name with the primary mission of training future officers in the U.S. Army.
“Austin was most passionate about the soldiers he led, and his greatest attribute was his giving spirit,” said Doug Shilling, Austin’s father. “Our hope is that his scholarship will help to offset the cost of tuition so that no future leaders are left behind.”
Reitzel, who will commission as a second lieutenant in May, is grateful for the opportunity the scholarship is providing for him to focus on his studies, his twin sons and his wife. More importantly, the honor helps him appreciate the Mountaineer Battalion and what it does for Appalachian’s cadets.
“This scholarship gives back to a program that helped develop Austin Shilling, and many others, into great army officers,” he said. “It’s allowing me, and many future cadets, to continue our studies and strive to become the best leaders we can possibly be.”
About the Department of Military Science and Leadership
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, Appalachian’s Department of Military Science and Leadership is home to the Mountaineer Battalion. Established in 1969, the program provides students with training to develop self-discipline, physical stamina and poise, as well as the organizational and motivational skills that contribute to success in any career. Students who complete the ROTC program earn credits for a minor in military science and leadership and are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army, Army Reserves or Army National Guard upon graduation.