The U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) at East Tennessee State University held an induction ceremony for the campus ROTC Hall of Fame Nov. 11 in the Grand Soldiers Ballroom of the Carnegie Hotel.
The ETSU ROTC Hall of Fame recognizes alumni, former cadre members and others who have distinguished themselves professionally and have made significant contributions to the ROTC program.
The new Hall of Fame members include:
• Col. (Ret.) Troy E. Burrow earned a bachelor’s degree and his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army at Henderson State University in Arkansas. Nine years later, he was awarded a master’s degree in Environmental Health from East Tennessee State University. A dual-rated senior aviator, he counts 1,500 combat hours among his accomplishments and served two tours in Vietnam. Among his other assignments, Burrow was Commander of the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Alaska, and retired in 1993 as Special Assistant to the Commanding General at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence in Fort Rucker, Alabama. From 1985-88, Burrow returned to ETSU as Commander of the Buccaneer Battalion, and after his retirement, served as a faculty member in the Department of Environmental Health.
• Deborah Donaldson is the daughter of the late Harold and Ruby Jenkins and is a lifelong resident of the area. She has been on the ETSU campus in some capacity for 37 years. She took a civil service test which resulted in her being hired as a Department of the Army civilian in the ETSU ROTC program. In 2001, she was selected as one of six Human Resource Assistants to work with the U.S. Army Cadet Command to create the School of Cadet Command Human Resource Assistant Course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During her 32-year tenure, Donaldson has adjusted to ever-changing offices and procedures. She and her husband, Jim, reside in Jonesborough. They are the parents of two sons and have four granddaughters.
• The late Lt. Col. (Ret.) John E. Gross was a 1965 Distinguished Military Graduate of East Tennessee State University. Gross served as company commander in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 9th Infantry Division in Vietnam and the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado.
An instructor in the Florida phase of Ranger school, he also served as company commander in Long Island, New York, operations staff officer in the IX Corps in Japan, brigade operations officer and executive officer in the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California. Gross is best remembered at ETSU for his time spent from 1981-85 as a highly regarded teacher in the university’s Department of Military Science. In addition to his bachelor’s degree from ETSU, Gross earned a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from Michigan State University. Gross retired from the military in 1988 and passed away in 2015.
• Col. (Ret.) Mike Johnson, a Johnson City native, graduated from ETSU with a degree in Business Administration. In 1983, he was a Distinguished Military Graduate and received his commission as a Second Lieutenant through the ETSU ROTC program. He also earned a master’s degree in Business Management and graduated from the U.S. Army War College. Initially, he served in the U.S. Army Reserves and was selected as a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant School. He is a combat veteran of the Afghanistan Theater of Operations, where he closed his career as Chief of Staff for all United States Forces serving in Southern Afghanistan. Johnson and his wife of 38 years, fellow Johnson City native Melony Hale Johnson, are the parents of three children and have three grandchildren.
• The late Maj. Homer L. Pease decided in 1942, when he was only 13- years-old, to join the Marine Corps. He convinced a stranger to play the role of his father and appeared at the Johnson City recruiting office. After completing basic training and qualifying as an airborne paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, Pease jumped into France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. He was wounded, received a Purple Heart, and rejoined his unit to fight in Ardennes Forest, the Battle of the Bulge. He was again wounded, but this time his true age of 15 was discovered. He was reduced in rank from Sergeant to Private and sent home to Johnson City.
Pease attended Science Hill High School until his 16th birthday and then managed to sign on for a two-year hitch, getting as far as Fort Bragg, North Carolina, before he was sent home again. After his high school graduation in 1950, Pease immediately joined the Tennessee Army National Guard and attended both ETSU and Milligan College. After 12 years in civilian life, Pease again joined the military. In 1965, he volunteered to be a military advisor in Vietnam and completed the U.S. Army Ranger course. On November 19, 1966, he was killed in action at Ba Tri in Kien Hoa Province of South Vietnam while leading a ground combat operation.