FORT PICKETT, Va. — Governor Terry McAuliffe welcomed eight new Virginia National Guard officers during their graduation and commissioning ceremony as the guest speaker July 26, 2014, at the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute at Fort Pickett, Va. The officers of OCS Class 56 completed a two-year Officer Candidate School Course at Fort Pickett to earn their commissions.
“What you have signed up for is no easy task” said McAuliffe. “Yet you have chosen this path with honor and pride, and for that the citizens of the commonwealth and our nation are forever in your debt.”
McAuliffe told the new lieutenants that “your responsibilities are far and wide. Just look at the world around you – there are so many places to respond… both the commonwealth and the world are your mission.” He reminded them that they will be responsible for not only defense support to civil authorities but also federal support in which the Guard must be ready to deploy overseas for both combat and peacekeeping operations.
He also pointed out the responsibility that comes with the commissioning. “Part of being a leader is having the maturity to treat people with dignity and respect. To recognize that you can learn a great deal from those around you. And having the confidence to admit when you are wrong – those are some values that should guide your career,” McAuliffe said.
“There is no greater gift than being young and having your whole life ahead of you,” McAuliffe said in closing his remarks. “I look forward to watching your achievements, learning from your stories and creating a stronger, more prosperous Commonwealth. You make Virginia proud.”
Brig. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, presented the candidates with a framed diploma.
Each candidate selected who would administer their oath of office, pin on their rank shoulder boards and the NCO to receive their first salute and silver dollar. The silver dollar salute is an Army tradition that newly commissioned second lieutenants present a silver dollar to the first enlisted Soldier who salutes them. The coin symbolically acknowledges the receipt of respect due the new rank and position.
Following the remarks from McAuliffe, seven awards were presented – six for the candidates and one for a staff member.
The Harry Q. Rose Award, named for the only graduate of the Virginia Guard’s OCS program to have given his life in the service of his country, recognizes the candidate who most distinguished himself in leadership throughout the program, as chosen by the OCS cadre and staff, was presented to Second Lt. Elaina Orphanides. Orphanides was also the recipient of the Physical Fitness Award who earned a score of 300, out of a possible 300. Finally, Orphanides received The Erickson Trophy. This trophy is the most coveted student award as it identifies the distinguished graduate of the program. Second Lt. Elaina M. Orphanides, of Restin graduated from James Madison with a bachelors in Anthropology and graduated from Salem International with her masters in International Business. She currently serves as a shift manager at Starbucks. She branched Military Intelligence and will serve as a platoon leader with the Bowling Green-based Company B, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The Commandant’s Award for Academic Excellence recognizes the candidate with the highest academic average and went to Second Lt. Daniel Frantzen. Frantzen was also the recipient of the AUSA Leadership Excellence Award. This award goes to the candidate with the average highest leadership rating through the different stages of OCS. Frantzen is a systems integration consultant with Accenture and is a resident of Fairfax, Va. He graduated with a bachelors in Computer Science and a masters in Information Technology from Virginia Tech. He branched Field Artillery and will serve as the fire support officer with the Winchester-based, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The Colonel James B. Moore III Award, named for the first commandant of the Virginia Guard OCS, honored the officer candidate who showed the most progress throughout the program and was awarded to Second Lt. Nicole Stanojey. Stanojev is a small business owner and is an Assistant Director of Finance for the Dept. of Alcohol Beverage. She is a resident of Richmond, Va. She graduated with her masters in Accounting from Liberty University. She branched Chemical Corps and will serve as a platoon leader with Staunton-based, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The final award presented was the Maj. Tom Bell Award, named for a former commandant, and was presented to the OCS staff member who best instilled the seven Army values and was awarded to Sgt.1st Class Douglas Perry.
Following the presentation of awards, the candidates came on stage one at a time to receive their OCS diplomas and take their oath of office, administered by an officer of their choosing, before having family members and loved ones affix their new rank to their uniforms. The new lieutenants then received their first salute as officers from a noncommissioned officer before returning to their seats as lieutenants.
The following officer candidates were awarded their commissions during the ceremony:
Second Lt. Jamie C. Owens of Disputanta will graduate in May from Virginia State with a bachelors in Industry and Logistical Technology. She is currently a substitute teacher with Prince George County Schools. She branched Quartermaster and will serve as a platoon leader with the Danville-based, Company A, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Second Lt. Matthew D. Henry currently works as a manager for J.W. Townsend and is a resident of Charlottesville. He is a former Marine and deployed with the 2d Bn., 24th Marine Division in 2004 as a combat engineer. He earned his bachelors degree from Virginia Tech in Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. He branched Engineers and will serve as a platoon leader with the Fredricksburg-based Company A, 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Second Lt. Brian L. White is an Intelligence Analyst with the Dept. of Justice and is a resident of Hanover, Md. He graduated with an bachelors in Government from Campbell University. He branched Aviation and will serve as a platoon leader with the Sandston-based, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 91st Troop Command.
Second Lt. Eric B. Reynolds is a Chick-Fil-A Manager and is a resident of Richmond, Va. He expects to graduate in December with a bachelors in Government from Liberty University. He branched Quartermaster Corps and will serve as a platoon leader with the Sandston-based, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 91st Troop Command.
Second Lt. Zachary W. Barnett is a manager for Tru Ball and is a resident of Lynchburg, Va. He has a bachelors in Interdisciplinary Studies from Liberty University and is currently pursuing a masters degree in Teaching. He branched Ordinance Corps and will serve as a platoon leader with the Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company, 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group.
Following the completion of the commissioning ceremony the 3rd Battalion, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute conducted a change of command ceremony for the Officer Candidate School Company where Capt. Sheryll Lloyd took command from Maj. Melody N. Moshkowski.
The Clifton Forge-based 29th Division Band provided ceremonial music for the event.
View photos from the ceremony on Flickr: