Chesterton Tribune



WPL librarian Rose Halpin to be commissioned as MP officer

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The officers corps of history’s militaries were traditionally the bailiwick of the aristocracy. Men were led into battle by kings and princes, nobles and peers, and they learned to officer, if they learned at all, on the job, as it wasn’t until relatively late that anything like the military academies as we know them were established. For the Prussian Junkers, service in the officer corps was a family tradition. In the British Army a man literally bought his commission, paid cash on the barrel for it, so you can imagine how well officered some of the old Red Coats were.

It’s different now, of course. Men--and women--attend the officers’ trade schools: West Point, Sandhurst, Saint-Cyr. Or they go through ROTC. Or, as rankers seeking promotion, they apply to Officer Command School (OCS).

Rose Halpin, the head of technical services at Westchester Public Library, is coming at her commission--as a second lieutenant in the 470th Movement Control Battalion (U.S. Army Reserve)--in a slightly different way: through the trivium and quadrivium, soaked in Latin, steeped in the Church Fathers.

On Thursday, Halpin will leave for OCS at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Ga., to become an officer in the Military Police.

Halpin, CHS Class of 2002, earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., one of the few schools left in the country which still bases its curriculum on the Great Books of Western Civilization. She learned to read Aquinas in the original, mastered the syllogism, pursued Socratism, then took that highly classical background with her to Dominican University in River Forest, Ill., where she graduated with a master’s degree in library and information science.

And having acquired this education, Halpin made the decision to join the U.S. Army (Regular). It didn’t finally work out. After completing basic training, she injured herself on the obstacle course in OCS, and while recuperating took her current position at the WPL in July 2012. Now she’s in the U.S. Army Reserve but just as adamantly eager to complete OCS.

“There were two slots open for me when I was accepted to OCS,” Halpin told the Chesterton Tribune. “In the Adjutant General Corps and in the Military Police. But the Adjutant General is a desk job. It’s administration. Which is great. The Army needs people for desk jobs. But I have a desk job right now. That’s what I do and I love it a lot. But I wanted something different. So I chose the Military Police.”

MPs are tasked with a variety of responsibilities: traffic control, checkpoints, law enforcement, convoy duty. And it’s potentially dangerous, Halpin said. “The Military Police is not a combat branch. But it is a combat support branch.”

Halpin is expecting, at some point, to be deployed. So is she eager for overseas duty? “No, we all want world peace. But that’s what I signed up for. I wanted to do something more significant in my life. Nobody’s going to live or die by the cataloging decisions I make. I saw this as an opportunity to broaden my horizons and give back. I’ll be changing myself as a person and be part of something that’s bigger than me, to help others.”

Barring deployment, Halpin will complete her six-year commitment in the U.S. Army Reserve by serving one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. “In the meantime, I’m a librarian.” And, she noted, WPL Director Phil Baugher--an old Marine himself--has “been absolutely great, nothing but supportive and understanding,” when it comes to freeing Halpin to serve her country.

Halpin is confident that her classical education will help her as a leader in the Military Police. “I’ve been taught how to think about things and analyze things. It’s been a broadening experience. And when you’re leading people, and responsible for people, if you can’t look at the big picture and know where you’re going, you’re going to have a big problem.”

What do her old profs at Thomas Aquinas College think about Halpin’s acceptance into OCS? “Because it’s such a traditional place, they had to get over that,” she said. “But then they say ‘I think you’ll make a good officer.’”



Posted 5/8/2013