“Lt. Col. Bo Clayton, who is a very good friend of mine and an Appalachian State University graduate, told me about this fine institution and about Boone,” Kilgore said. “I checked the university out online, came up and visited and I liked it. It was my No. 1 choice on my list of professor of military science positions.”
Kilgore now leads the ROTC program at Appalachian. “Appalachian State is a very highly regarded ROTC position. There were a lot of people who wanted this job,” he said.
Kilgore was drawn to military service at age 17 when he enlisted in the Mississippi Army National Guard. His father was a career national guardsman in Mississippi.
After graduating from the ROTC program at Mississippi State University, Kilgore joined the Army as a second lieutenant and served as an M1A1 tank platoon leader with the 1st Infantry Division (Forward) in Germany.
Since beginning his Army career, Kilgore has traveled to almost every continent in the world, including challenging assignments in Asia, where he served in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq during Desert Storm/Desert Shield. He returned to Kuwait and Iraq as a major with the 1st Calvary Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom II.
“Those challenges make you a better person in the end,” Kilgore said. “You find out your strengths and your weaknesses, and that gives you a better perspective on looking inside at who you are. That’s one of the things we can offer these young cadets—a chance to excel in some very stressful situations, and they will come out as a better person for it.”
Kilgore and his officers will work to help Appalachian students excel at the Army’s Leadership, Development and Accession Course (LDAC) held each summer at Fort Lewis, Wash., and on the Army’s National Order of Merit List, which ranks cadets based on their ROTC performance, grades, physical fitness, extracurricular activities and at LADC performance.
How well cadets score on the National Order of Merit List helps determine if they will begin active duty, or join the Army National Guard or Army Reserve, and their branch assignment, such as aviation, infantry, military police or other branches of the Army.
“If I do my job well, these cadets will leave the program well prepared and get their first branch choice,” Kilgore said.
About 130 cadets are enrolled in ROTC at Appalachian, and an average of 17 second lieutenants are commissioned each year after graduating from the university.
Working with the ROTC program is rewarding, Kilgore said. “It’s one of the best ways to give back to my profession,” he said.