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KNOXVILLE — This weekend, UT Knoxville’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 800 (AFROTC Det 800) is celebrating a significant honor. Recognized for outstanding accomplishments during a two-year period from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2010, they were named the 2010 Medium Unit High Flight Winner for the Southeast Region.

The competition measures performance in five categories: production of officers, education, recruiting and retention, university and public relations, and cadet activities.

Some specific AFROTC Det 800 accomplishments include commissioning 21 officers this spring (a 250-percent increase from 2008), having their training program lauded as outstanding and “one of the best training programs ever seen” by the Air Education and Training Command Inspector General, and having several cadet leaders recognized for winning national level awards that include three Society of American Military Engineer Awards.

Beating out several SEC schools and a number of others, including Tennessee State, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke and Clemson for the title, UT AFROTC will advance to go up against other regional medium unit winners for the Right of Line Award, given to the best AFROTC unit in the nation. The results will be announced at the AFROTC Commander’s Conference in Montgomery, Ala., in November.

Existing on campus before it was called UT Knoxville, the Reserve Officer Training Corps began as an infantry company. Since then, it has become home to two different programs, the U.S. Air Force ROTC Detachment 800 and the U.S. Army ROTC Rocky Top Battalion.

“Our cadets are very aware of their legacy, as well as the deep military traditions of the university and the state of Tennessee,” said Commander of the Detachment 800 Air Force Lt. Col. Mike Angle. “They are smart; most of them are athletic and patriotic and want to do something extraordinary with their lives. They endeavor to be doctors, lawyers, pilots and engineers, but they are all here to become officers, leaders of men and women while they serve their nation.”

One such student, Col. Robin Akin, was the first UT Knoxville female Army ROTC cadet graduate to be selected for the rank of brigadier general. Akin is currently in charge of more than 1,875 soldiers, sailors, Marines and civilians whose mission is to ensure U.S. forces in Haiti have food, water, spare parts and medical support.

“There are only 22 female general officers in the entire Army, and Col. Akin’s selection is a significant achievement for her, UT and our ROTC program,” said Lt. Col. Don Evans, professor of military science and leadership.

“We produce a lot of officers, our education program has been touted as one of the best, we go to great lengths to recruit and retain our cadets, and we work hard to be active in the local and campus communities,” Angle said. “We are proud of our cadets and our staff and know we have a great chance to take that national title in November.”

C O N T A C T :

Abbey Taylor (865-974-9409, ataylo30@utk.edu)