STEPHENVILLE — After wearing a uniform for almost four decades, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Kenny Weldon bids farewell this month as Commandant of the Texan Corps of Cadets and Dean of Tarleton State University’s Leadership and Military College.
Part student military organization and part leadership training, including a minor in leadership studies, the Texan Corps of Cadets is the nation’s only such group not associated with a senior military college. And Tarleton is the only four-year university in the U.S. to implement a military college with a corps of cadets.
Tapped in 2015 as commandant, Col. Weldon has played a significant role in re-establishing and growing the Texan Corp of Cadets. Started in 1917 when Tarleton became a founding member of The Texas A&M University System, the corps has doubled its enrollment over the past five years to 128 strong.
That rapid growth spurred creation of Tarleton’s Leadership and Military College in fall 2020.
“We honor and thank Col. Weldon for his exemplary leadership and service,” said Tarleton President James Hurley. “His legacy speaks for itself. Our cadets enjoy national recognition as front-runners in a world where commitment, perseverance and teamwork make all the difference.”
After being dormant for 60 years, the first class of “Ducks” began its Tarleton journey in fall 2016 with new cadet uniforms and a dedicated residence hall. A year later, Col. Weldon led the addition of Air Force ROTC and Marine Corps Platoon Leaders programs. And he directed efforts for Tarleton to become a member of the prestigious Association of Military Colleges and Schools of the United States; Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, North Georgia, The Citadel, Virginia Military Institute and Norwich are members.
Following graduation, many Texan cadets commission through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps as officers in the Army — a proud partnership dating back more than 100 years — or Air Force or Marine Corps. Others follow a civilian track called Texan Leader, with no military obligation.
“The opportunity to serve as Commandant and guide a renewal of the Corps of Cadets has been an honor and privilege,” Col. Weldon said. “The future is bright for Texan cadets, young leaders who model accountability, responsibility and commitment 168 hours a week (all the time) — ARC168 leadership.
“My work with cadets, faculty, staff and alumni has been very rewarding for me personally, and I wish the very best to all.”
In addition to Tarleton, Col. Weldon serves on several local and regional boards of directors, including the Brazos Region G Water Planning Group, Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas and the Cross Timbers Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He’s a deacon at First Baptist Church in Stephenville.
A Stephenville native, Col. Weldon retired in 2011 after more than 26 years as an Air Force civil engineering officer. While on active duty, he led organizations at the installation, military department and Secretary of Defense levels. His military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and Legion of Merit.
He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a bachelor’s in civil engineering. He also holds a master’s in engineering and environmental management as well as a master’s in national security strategy from the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
He and his wife, Carrie, have twins Kyle and Kayla, both Texas A&M graduates. Kyle and his wife, Allison, also a Texas A&M graduate, and their son, Graham, live in Aledo. Kayla lives in Stephenville.
For more information on Tarleton’s Texan Corps of Cadets, go to www.tarleton.edu/cadets.