Naval ROTC Welcomes New Commander

May 25, 2022 - Dorene DiNaro

CaveThe University of New Mexico Naval ROTC welcomed CAPT Gary Cave as its new commanding officer after the retirement of CAPT Nick Sarap. Cave, an Ohio native, became interested in military service during his time in the ROTC program at the Georgia Institute of Technology—an interest he has turned into a 26-year career. 

Cave brings a wealth of experience including three command tours with his most recent and longest tour in San Diego as Commanding Officer of USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000). “I was used to moving every two to three years until I was stationed in San Diego for 6 years,” he says. 

Prior to his assignment at UNM, he’d only driven through New Mexico, and wasn't’t sure what to expect. After hearing that UNM is a downtown campus, he couldn’t help but compare it to

Georgia Tech— situated on the I-75/I-85 connector in downtown Atlanta—and assumed that it might be more of a concrete jungle than a picturesque landscape. “UNM is a beautiful campus, it’s very open and green,” he says. “It’s a hidden gem.”

Now that he’s at The University of New Mexico, he hopes to bring the ROTC program into closer alignment with The University as a whole, and feels that the upcoming move from Student Affairs to University College will help him do that. “The ROTC program has always been on its own,” he says. “I’d like to help heighten the academic oversight of the program.”

The construction of the new ROTC Complex slated to be completed at the end of this year will bring greater comradery among the three units on campus. “We’ve always had a friendly competitiveness between branches,” he says. “Bringing the three units together in the same space will help right what sometimes is considered an unhealthy rivalry— at the end of the day, we all wear the same cloth.”

Part of Cave’s duties include teaching a leadership and ethics class. Although the Naval ROTC program is geared toward turning midshipmen into commissioned Naval officers, anyone enrolled at the University can take an ROTC class. “The leadership and ethics course can translate across all majors and can be used by anyone,” he says. 

The most important item on his to do list? Give back to the program that gave him his start. “Since my time in the Georgia Tech ROTC program as a midshipman, I always knew I wanted to give back to the program,” he says. “It didn’t really matter where, but New Mexico was exciting with its spacious outdoor appeal.”

Cave has three children, two who are in college in other states and a third who will be starting school here in Albuquerque in the Fall. He and his wife have settled into the East Mountains where they enjoy the landscape, fresh air, and the rurality of their location.  For more information on the Naval ROTC program, visit the NROTC website.