KU Army ROTC honors exceptional Jayhawk Battalion alumni
LAWRENCE — As part of the University of Kansas Homecoming celebration in October, the KU Army ROTC program took the opportunity to honor extraordinary alumni and acknowledge the achievements of the Jayhawk Battalion. The program inducted new members into the Jayhawk Battalion Alumni Association Wall of Fame, provided a state of the battalion address and presented a new cadet award.
Retired Col. George Pogge, a distinguished member of the Jayhawk Battalion Alumni Association Wall of Fame, presented the class of 2023’s four newest inductees. These inductees are recognized for their outstanding contributions to the U.S. Army. Each inductee, which includes graduates from the University of Kansas and satellite schools, was chosen based upon their exceptional service in one of four categories: active duty, Army National Guard, Army Reserve and civilian achievements. The class of 2023 inductees include Maj. Gen. Kevin Admiral, retired Col. Todd Zollinger, retired Brig. Gen. Christie Nixon, and retired Col. David Thompson, all of whom have achieved significant milestones in their military careers.
Admiral, class of 1994, holds a degree in cellular biology from KU and was commissioned through the Jayhawk Battalion in armor. He currently serves in active duty and assumed command of the 1st Cavalry Division on July 14. Admiral’s extensive career has seen him serve in armor, mechanized infantry and Stryker formations during his career in the U.S., Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Zollinger is a native of Andover. He graduated from KU in 1990 and was commissioned as an armor officer. His military journey began in the Kansas National Guard in 1987 as an infantryman, and he was commissioned through the Jayhawk Battalion in 1990. Zollinger’s 29-year career with the Army National Guard included serving up to brigade command and culminated in his role as the senior Army adviser to the Indiana Army National Guard until his retirement in October 2019.
Nixon is a 1982 graduate of Emporia State University commissioned through the Jayhawk Battalion that same year. She dedicated 36 years to the U.S. Army Reserve before retiring in 2018. Nixon’s career included commanding every grade except second lieutenant and her promotion to general officer in 2013. She served as the deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command and held a final assignment as commanding general of the Military Intelligence Readiness Command, overseeing over 8,000 soldiers worldwide.
Thompson, a graduate of Emporia State University, was commissioned through the KU ROTC program as a second lieutenant in 1981. He served in the U.S. Army as a field artillery officer for over 30 years, retiring as a colonel in 2011. Thompson has served an additional 19 years as a civilian, primarily with the Army’s Office of the Inspector General, earning recognition as the U.S. Army Civilian Inspector General of the Year for 2021.
Upon receiving his induction into the Battalion Wall of Fame, Thompson spoke about his love for the military and said he appreciated KU and its Army ROTC program for involving Emporia State students. His speech included advice for current cadets.
Before the induction ceremony, Lt. Col. Calvin Taetzsch, professor of military science, delivered a State of the Battalion address, highlighting the Jayhawk Battalion’s significant accomplishments over the past year and emphasizing the Jayhawk Battalion’s commitment to producing top-quality cadets.
The ceremony concluded with the presentation of the inaugural LEADUP Award (Leadership Excellence Award for Uniform Purchase) with grants of $1,000 each. Reagan Warburton of Cedar Vale and Christopher Libert of Alliance, Ohio, both were recognized for their outstanding leadership and performance during Cadet Summer Training. This grant, established by retired Brig. Gen. Chuck Taylor, a distinguished alumnus of the class of 1982 and a prior Wall of Fame inductee, is dedicated to the acquiring Army Green Service Uniforms for the distinguished cadets. These uniforms symbolize their commitment to service and their impending commissioning as future military leaders.