Military Awards Banquet - April 10, 2014        
Cadet Jason Kelly of Southern CT State, Space Systems Officer Career Track, was announced as the first winner of the Robert N Tharp Award at the second annual Yale ROTC Military Awards banquet on April 10, 2014 in New Haven, Connecticut.  The award was presented by Kevin Gunther, a member of the April, 1962 Basic Chinese class at IFEL.
The New Haven Awards ceremony started at 5:30 P.M. with a cocktail hour as people introduced themselves to each other.  There were over 200 people of all sorts.  Some active military, some retired military, ROTC cadets, family members and Yale officials.  The evening’s events started with the presenting of the colors by a mixed AF and Navy color guard.
The awards banquet was outstanding!!  Jason Kelly, the recipient of the Tharp award, was the ideal candidate.  He had been enlisted in the Air Force for approximately eight years and then returned to college (at Southern Connecticut College) and will be graduating this June.  After his commission, he will be stationed on Cape Cod:  he is one lucky fellow.  Cadet Kelly left the Active Force to study Computer Science at SCSU and has been rewarded with a Space Systems Officer Career opportunity. 
The setting was at Anthony's Ocean View, a restaurant on a beach near Light House point at New Haven Harbor, with a wonderful view of New Haven (and there was excellent weather). Various members of the Yale higher ups attended and seemed to be enjoying themselves. There was a small Yale “band’ playing all the appropriate armed services theme songs.  After a few of the perfunctory speeches (thankfully very short) Colonel Manning was introduced as the guest of honor.  Manning’s speech was superb,emphasizing integrity, morality and honesty.  He described his efforts in getting the USAF ROTC off the ground at Yale and how welcoming and supportive the Yale community has been. He mentioned the IFEL program in glowing terms.  He offered to speak about Ukraine with anyone after the ceremony!!  It is most fortunate for Yale to have had Manning as the first commander of the ROTC Detachment:  his will be a tough act to follow.
By Francis M. Vitagliano.  Mr Vitagliano graduated in 1969 as a 203, Chinese Mandarin, from DLIWC (Monterey) where he got to know Robert Tharp. After an assignment to ShuLinKou in Taipei, Taiwan, he was then assigned to NSA at Ft. Meade, MD. 



Photo by Kevin Gunther

Photo by Kevin Gunther



Photo by Kevin Gunther

Cadet Jason Kelly, winner of the Robert N Tharp Award.  Presented by Kevin Gunther, IFEL 62-04)

      Click here for Tharp Award Certificate

            Click here for banquet script

Thank you all for the congratulatory remarks. It was more of an honor to receive the award after looking into Bob Tharp and understanding who he was. Mr. Kevin Gunther and Mr. Francis Vitagliano represented you all well. There were plenty of laughs and stories being thrown around the table.
... I entered the enlisted side as an Airborne Cryptologic Linguist (1A8X1) in 2003. Out of the two dozen or so linguists who were days away from graduating Basic, only 1 was assigned Chinese (which I wanted) while myself and a few others were assigned Korean. I studied for about 5 months at the DLI in Monterey before changing to Financial Management (6F0X1). During my tour in Korea, I changed jobs again to Flight Engineer (1A1X1) where I flew on the KC-10 Tanker, taking part in combat missions over Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the horn of Africa.
I sometimes kick myself that I didn't know about the AFROTC program out of high school, but I'm proud of my enlisted roots and find them beneficial when working with enlisted. I'll commission next month as a Space Operations Officer (13S) and working out of a small air station in Cape Cod. I'll be the guy who lets you know if an asteroid is going to ruin your property value.
Again, thank you all for this honor.
Jason Kelly


Photos by official event photographer  

Kevin Gunther - Francis Vitagliano

Catherine & Kevin Gunther - Francis, Michaela & Halyna Vitagliano

Catherine & Kevin Gunther

Halyna and Michaela Vitagliano

Michaela Vitagliano

Table settings

Great Location

Tricia Neely and family

Tom Opladen

Presenting the colors

Colonel Scott Manning

Diane Manning