By Kim Brown, Assistant Director for Alumni Programs
As a student at Syracuse University, Aaron Rittgers always looked forward to Modern Presidency class with Professor Margaret Susan Thompson. Little did he know that ten years later, he’d have a job that would give him a front row seat to the President of the United States, the Vice President, First Ladies, and other prominent world leaders.
Rittgers is a Major in the United States Air Force. As a student at Syracuse University, he was in the Air Force ROTC. He graduated from SU in 2003 and is now Commander of the 811th Security Forces Squadron at Joint Base Andrews. What does that mean? His squadron is responsible for guarding Air Force One when it is on Andrews, for protecting Air Force Two all over the world, and for protecting the President, Vice President, First Lady, and other leaders while they are on Joint Base Andrews. That means Rittgers has some insider information on President Obama’s golf game! Andrews is one of the President’s favorite place to golf.
Major Rittgers visited campus at the end of October as part of the Alumni Speaker Series. He spoke to the Modern Presidency class, to the Air Force ROTC cadets, to a group of parents on campus for Family Weekend, and more. The timing of his trip also coincided with a visit from General Martin Dempsey, who awarded Major Rittgers with his Bronze Star Medal after a yearlong tour in Iraq. Rittgers has done seven tours and spent 1100 days in the Middle East!
Since Rittgers works so closely on protecting Air Force Two, he’s had several interactions with fellow Syracuse University alum Vice President Joe Biden. When asked about those interactions, Rittgers said that Biden is one of the most down-to-earth guys you could meet – and that the two enjoy chatting about ‘CUSE. Major Rittgers also told ROTC cadets how proud he is of them for choosing to join ROTC in a post-9/11 world.
It’s always an honor to welcome Syracuse University alumni back to campus to share their career stories, and we’re especially grateful to Major Rittgers for sharing so much of his time and talent with our students!