NAU Army ROTC graduate named most outstanding in the U.S.
A decorated Northern Arizona University Army ROTC graduate whose mentors describe him as “excelling in all measurable domains of cadet life” has been named the most outstanding Army ROTC graduate in the United States.
Second Lt. Carlton Griffin, a May 2009 graduate of NAU’s International Affairs program, will be honored with the prestigious Raytheon/Hughes Trophy Award, recognizing him as the year’s most outstanding commissioned graduate. He was awarded the honor over 4,500 other students nationwide.
“When it comes to work ethic, duty concept and an unwavering sense of character, Lt. Griffin is the most outstanding cadet I have mentored in over 26 years,” said Lt. Col. John Nelson, professor of military science at NAU. He cited Griffin’s “stellar” academic performance, physical prowess and numerous military accolades as indicators of the cadet’s merits.
He added that it is Griffin’s “singular drive, his unfaltering sense of duty and his unquestionable dedication to the Army values that distinguishes him from his peers.”
As a member of NAU’s award-winning Lumberjack Battalion, Griffin was named Arizona's top Army ROTC cadet in March and was among three NAU ROTC graduates to receive their commissions in the U.S. armed forces from President Barack Obama in May. He made the Dean’s List every semester at NAU and graduated Summa Cum Laude as a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
Griffin also received a perfect score on his physical fitness test and a top rating at the Leaders Development and Assessment Course, an intensive 33-day training program at Fort Lewis, Wash.
“Carl is truly the epitome of the soldier-scholar-athlete,” wrote NAU President John Haeger in a letter endorsing Griffin’s nomination for the award. “He has shown an admirable sense of duty, a keen sense of patriotism, an untiring work ethic and the humble professionalism characteristic of a military officer.”
Griffin, a 2005 graduate of Sinagua High School in Flagstaff, also had the support of the city’s mayor, Sara Presler, who cited his volunteerism and community service, academic mentorship and athletic leadership as examples of Griffin’s impressive accomplishments. “Leadership is demanded of our young people at an early age,” she wrote to the award committee. “Carl didn’t just rise to the call of service, he has exceeded it.”
Several other faculty and staff across campus also submitted letters of recommendation endorsing Griffin for the award, each referencing his exceptional character, work ethic and leadership.
“Lt. Griffin sets the example in everything he does,” Nelson said.
In April, Griffin will travel to Washington, D.C., where the U.S. Secretary of Army will present him with the trophy. An award also will be presented to the NAU Army ROTC program at a campus ceremony later this year.
Griffin currently serves as an infantry officer at Fort Benning, Ga., with a subsequent assignment in Italy with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. He will deploy to Afghanistan in a few months to serve as a rifle platoon leader.