FORT PICKETT, Va. – Recent graduates of the Virginia Army National Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School gathered Oct. 26, 2013, at Fort Pickett’s 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute, for a Warrant Officer Appointment Recognition Ceremony. The ceremony took place in front of friends, family members and senior leaders from the Virginia National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve, and honored the nine graduates of WOCS Class 13-001.
The new warrant officers graduated WOCS in September at a ceremony held near Camp Atterbury, Ind., where the warrant officer candidates completed the third and final phase of WOCS. The Recognition Ceremony allowed loved ones and the commonwealth’s senior leaders a chance to recognize the accomplishments of the newly-appointed warrants in their home state.
“You did not get here by chance,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 William Lyles, command chief warrant officer for the Virginia Army National Guard. “You were endorsed and chosen by your commanders, by your senior NCOs, as being the right Soldier to enter into this program and that you have what it took – performance and potential – to fill some of these critical warrant officer positions.
During his remarks, Lyles spoke of the successes and achievements of the warrant officers during their time in WOCS, complimenting them on their superb academic scores as well as their high scores on the Army Physical Fitness Test.
“What I’m most proud about, is the leadership each one of your displayed in Phase III,” Lyles said. “It was not only noticed by myself and the other command chiefs, but it was noted by the cadre and staff who put on the course. That’s a direct reflection that we have recruited and the commanders have endorsed the right Soldiers to fill these positions.”
Brig. Gen. Blake C. Ortner began his remarks by thanking the family members for “allowing your loved ones to serve,” and reminded those assembled that “less than one percent of this nation steps up to serve in the uniform of our military. You’ve taken that role on and in addition, you’ve taken on that next step of taking on a leadership role.”
Ortner also spoke on the important role the warrant officer plays within the U.S. Army.
“You are the subject matter expert,” Ortner told the new warrant officers. “You’re the ones that officers, NCOs and Soldiers are going to look to to understand how the systems work.”
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Phyllis J. Wilson, command chief warrant officer for the U.S. Army Reserve, served as the second guest speaker for the event. She spoke on the similarities between the National Guard and the Army Reserve, saying, “the warrant officer cohort in both the Guard and the Reserve are very small.”
Among the nine graduates of Virginia’s WOCS Class 13-001, eight are assigned to the Virginia Army National Guard and one is assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve.
“We expect great things out of all of these warrant officers in front of us today,” Wilson said.
Warrant Office 1 Samantha Stone, recent WOCS graduate now assigned as a maintenance warrant officer to 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, says the best advice she could give to those interested in becoming warrant officers is to “know why you want to be a warrant and what you want to accomplish.”
For the new graduates of WOCS, the journey toward becoming a warrant officer began earlier this year. All the Virginia Guard graduates first attended Pre-WOCS, a weekend-long event designed to prepare interested Soldiers in the rigors of WOCS. Phase I of WOCS was completed by the candidates online before they began Phase II. Phase II consisted of five intense drill weekends, held over the course of five months, and included time in the classroom, road marches and sign and song presentations.
For Phase III, the candidates headed to Camp Atterbury, Ind., for a two-week training period. Phase III makes use of the lessons learned in the previous phases and included land navigation, field exercises and additional time in the classroom. After a graduation ceremony held in Indiana, the warrant officers returned home and the Recognition Ceremony marks the end of their WOCS journey.
“My message to you is to do the right thing,” said Lyles. “Make the warrant officer community proud of you and welcome to the warrant officer cohort.”
This story is the final part of a multi-story series on the Virginia National Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School.
Part Four: The Making of a Warrant: The Final Phase
The Making of a Warrant: WOCs begin Phase II at Virginia’s RTI
The Making of a Warrant: WOCs present song and sign, become the Purple Knights
WOCs’ community project brightens up Blackstone
The Making of a Warrant: The Final Phase