TMI alumni share service academy and military experiences with students

“It’s a calling…you have to want it in here,” said Lieutenant Commander Gregory Gilland ’87 as he tapped his chest over his heart while talking to students in the O.S. Petty Rifle Range of TMI, “and you’ll find the inner strength to do it.”

LCDR Gregory Gilland

He was speaking about the calling to military service during a Q&A session with Cadets and students last month on Friday, November 10. Accompanied by Captain Trent Melcher ’07, they shared their passion, stories, and encouragement with the students who came to learn more about the unique opportunities provided by the military service academies.

Along with candid stories of life at the academy and his following assignments throughout his military career, LCDR Gilland gave students three pieces of advice to take with them: live with purpose, live with integrity, and have the courage to face challenges. “Decide what you want to do and pursue it with excellence.”

Capt. Melcher echoed LCDR Gilland’s sentiments of integrity, saying that the honor code he first experienced at TMI was something he carried with him throughout his entire time at the academy and even to this day.

From changing the uniforms at TMI to juggling academy coursework with skydiving and world travels, click on the audio link below to hear these and other stories during the full Q&A session (25 minutes) with LCDR Gilland and Capt. Melcher.

LCDR Gilland, Capt. Melcher, LTC Bueno

Capt. Trent Melcher ’07, U.S. Air Force Academy ’11
During his time at TMI, Capt. Melcher served as Alpha Company Commander and president of the Honor Council; won four varsity letters in basketball; sang in the chorale; and played the title roles in The Mikado, Sweeney Todd, and Javert in Les Miserables.
Capt. Melcher received his appointment to the Air Force Academy as a member of the class of 2011. He played three years as a practice team player in the women’s basketball program and also sang in the Cadet Chorale. Capt. Melcher also studied abroad in Jordan, studying Arabic and international relations. He majored in Political Science and received the Department of Political Science’s Rokke Academic Leadership Award.
Upon graduation in 2011, Capt. Melcher was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, graduating as a pilot in 2012. He was then stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, and flew the Pilates PC12 in the 318th Special Operations Squadron. In 2013, he was named the PC12 Co-Pilot of the Year and, in 2014, upgraded to be an aircraft commander. In late 2014, he attended T-6 Pilot Instructor Training at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas. After graduation, he returned to Laughlin Air Force Base as a T-6 Instructor Pilot in 2015. Capt. Melcher is currently serving as the Transition Flight Commander, leading 100 students who are preparing to start pilot training. He has flown 1,148 hours, including 464 instructor hours.

LCDR Gregory Gilland ’87, U.S. Naval Academy ’92
A native of San Antonio, LCDR Gilland was a boarder for all four years at TMI. He was a member of the football team, the debate team, the honor society, and the Corp of Cadets. As a Cadet, he was the recipient of the Superior Cadet Award during his sophomore year and achieved the rank of Cadet Captain while serving as Bravo Company Commander and winning the 1987 MacArthur Cup. He was also a member of the Drill Team and its Commander during his senior year.

Upon graduation from TMI, LCDR Gilland attended the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) in Newport, Rhode Island, for one year and then received his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, as a member of the Class of 1992.

While a Midshipman at the Academy, he was an active member of the Catholic Midshipman’s Club, the Catholic Choir, the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference (NAFAC), and Company Intramural Sports. During his final summer training as a rising senior, he was selected to participate in a Foreign Exchange Cruise lasting eight weeks with the Italian Navy assigned to a Frigate in La Spezia, Italy. As a First Class Midshipman, he served as a Platoon Commander and later as a Battalion Operations Officer. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and a Minor in Spanish and was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

LCDR Gilland selected Surface Warfare as his Naval Warfare Community and accepted orders to the USS COMTE DE GRASSE DD-974 known in the fleet as the “COUNT” part of the Atlantic Fleet, homeported in Norfolk Virginia. He spent two years as the Damage Control Officer in the Engineering Department and one year as the Navigator. During his time on the Ship, the “COUNT” was forward deployed four times to include a Mediterranean Deployment as Flagship of the NATO Standing Force Mediterranean, as Flagship Destroyer Squadron 18 for Operation Support / Uphold / Restore Preserve Democracy in Haiti, and as Flagship for UNITAS XXXVI around South America. In December 1995, LCDR Gilland received orders as the Propulsion Readiness Officer at Regional Support Group Norfolk, a Fleet Readiness Assessment Unit for all Atlantic Fleet Frigates, Destroyers and Cruisers. In the fall of 1997, he left Active Duty as a Lieutenant and remained in the U.S. Naval Reserve for the next 10 years. While a member of the US Naval Reserve, LCDR Gilland was Executive Officer of Flight Deck Unit 1, and later Executive Officer of the Frigate Augment Unit 1, both based in Charleston, South Carolina. He achieved his current rank of Lieutenant Commander during his time in the Naval Reserves.

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