ECU welcomes military professors

East Carolina University continues to strengthen its military programs, most recently with the addition of Lt. Col. Melissa Coleman, professor of military science, and Lt. Col. April Wimmer, professor of aerospace studies. This is their first year at ECU.

Having previously served the U.S. Army in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan, Coleman was excited to come to ECU after hearing about the program while assigned to Fort Bragg. She had a few friends who were commissioned out of ECU so she knew university had a high-quality program.

Lt. Col. Melissa Coleman

Lt. Col. Melissa Coleman

“I did my own research on ECU ROTC cadets and they are top in the nation,” she said.  “We’re trying to be the best ROTC and we have the right staff and cadets to do it.”

The program is made up of students in different majors, from nursing and business to criminal justice and construction management. Coleman says she wants them all to be sound critical thinkers and be able to apply what they’ve learned in the program to both their Army jobs and civilian lives.

“It’s been my dream to be a professor of military science because I started off as a cadet and I feel like this if my way of giving back to the Army for the great career that they’ve given me,” she said.

Wimmer said ECU was her first choice because of the program’s reputation. Throughout her U.S. Air Force career, she gained experience in aircraft maintenance, satellite command and control, and cyber warfare and was a nuclear weapons officer.

This is her first time working in a university setting and she has 88 students in her program. She hopes to instill in her students integrity and respect for all people and beliefs.

Lt. Col. April Wimmer

Lt. Col. April Wimmer

“To make sure that those individuals that are getting ready to graduate have all of the skills they need to be successful when they get out there,” she said as she talked about her goals for the year. “For those that are freshmen, sophomores and juniors, I want to inspire in them a love and passion for the country, Air Force and what we’re doing.

Wimmer mentioned the friendly rivalry she and Coleman have between Army and Air Force, however they are close friends and share a common mission on the battlefield and on campus.

The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps Detachment 600 at ECU opened in 1948, when ECU was still East Carolina College. The first officer was commissioned in 1952 and they currently have commissioned over 1,400 Second Lieutenants.

The ECU ROTC department started in 1983 as a partnership with North Carolina State University, later becoming an independent program in 1997. The Battalion Army Ten-Miler Team has placed as high as third in the ROTC division and they have conducted the German Proficiency Badge Qualification.