On a campus awash in orange, camouflage is the color of the ROTC “Vol Army,” a military training unit celebrating its 100th year on campus.
“It was a good program when I came through, but now it is a great program,” said Rob Mathis, who graduated a few decades ago from the Reserve Officer Training Program at the University of Tennessee.
“It’s what I have always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be in the military. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps,” said Robbie Mathis, who is finishing his freshman year as a cadet.
He is working on a degree in finance but has committed to serve eight years on active duty, in the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, or Individual Ready Reserve.
His dad Rob served in both the active forces and the Army National Guard that included a tour during the war in Iraq. Outside his military service Mr. Mathis had a career as a high school math teacher and now serves as the elected trustee in Cocke County.
He offered this prediction for his son and his fellow cadets.
“They’re going to do great things, whether it’s in uniform or not, they’re going to be a great addition to our country,” said Mr. Mathis.