Thomas Boggiano ’12 gets a handshake from Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Bentow after receiving his first salute as an officer.
Thomas Boggiano ’12 gets a handshake from Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Bentow after receiving his first salute as an officer.
PHOTO: SAMEER A. KHAN

A few hours after Commencement, Greg Colella ’12 exchanged his graduation robe for military dress blues and swore an oath to support and defend the Consti­tution. As a second lieutenant in the Army, he will report to Fort Benning, Ga., in September for armor school, and he has joined a National Guard unit based in Philadelphia. “Hope­fully I’ll be able to go to Afghanistan,” Colella said. 

Colella is one of five members of the graduating class — along with Thomas Boggiano, John Caves, Derek Grego, and Ernie Wang — who spent their years at Princeton as members of the Tiger Battalion of ROTC. They became Army officers June 5 at a commissioning ceremony held in the faculty room of Nassau Hall, attended by President Tilghman and about 130 family members and well-wishers. 

Colella is the third generation of his family to join the military. Still, his decision was not easy for his mother, Terry Donovan, a former Navy nurse. “I probably did try and talk him out of it sometimes,” she said. “The safety part of me — the mom part of me — says no, but the part of me that encourages my kids to be independent and make a contribution says you’ve got to be proud of him.”

Wang joined the Army to give back to the country that welcomed his parents — immigrants from Taiwan — and pro­vided his father with funding to attend ­medical school. At the end of the cere­mony, Wang’s parents stepped forward to pin the epaulettes ­representing the second-lieutenant’s rank on their son’s ­uniform. 

“As parents, we always worry about putting our son in harm’s way, but this was something he wanted to do,” said Wang’s father, Henry. “He feels a sense of obligation.”

The parents of Greg Colella ’12 proudly pin epaulettes on the uniform of their son, a second lieutenant.
The parents of Greg Colella ’12 proudly pin epaulettes on the uniform of their son, a second lieutenant.
PHOTO: SAMEER A. KHAN