SANDSTON, Va. – After completing a three-phase program to become warrant officers, 10 Soldiers from Virginia stood amongst more than 70 of their peers April 8, 2017, in a ceremony to mark their successful completion of Warrant Officer Candidate School. The ceremony was held at the Alabama Military Academy at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Among the nine graduates from Virginia, most of whom serve in the Virginia National Guard, one was named distinguished honor graduate, two placed on the commandants list and one earned top marks for her physical fitness prowess.
“We have never had a distinguished honor graduate from the Virginia WOCS program in our ten-year history, so this is very significant,” explained Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Martin, WOCS course manager for the Virginia National Guard.
Warrant Officer Melissa J. Huntley-Bosco, assigned to the Fort Belvoir-based 29th Infantry Division, achieved the top spot in Class 17-001, as the distinguished honor graduate. Huntley-Bosco earned top marks in all parts of the course, both academic and physical. She also scored the maximum allowable points on the Army Physical Fitness Test.
Warrant Officer Brian Conklin, currently serving in the U.S. Army Reserve, and Staff Sgt. Travis Lamb, who earned a certificate of eligibility to become a warrant officer and is assigned to the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, both earned spots on the commandants list, signifying their position in the top 20 percent of their class.
Warrant Officer Miranda Davis, assigned to Joint Force Headquarters – Virginia, joined Huntley-Bosco as one of the top physical performers, earning top marks on the Army Physical Fitness Test.
“One other significant thing from this class is that we graduated our first two candidates from the 09W program,” Martin said. “The 09W program is when an applicant leaving active duty enlists into the National Guard with the intent of attending Warrant Officer Candidate School.” Martin explained that both Huntley-Bosco and Benson were the first graduates who enlisted into the Virginia National Guard under the 09W program.
For the new warrant officers who completed the course this April, the road to becoming a warrant began with a taster of things to come, with a pre-WOCS weekend, held at Fort Pickett. To participate in the Virginia National Guard-run WOCS, this pre-training weekend is a requirement. Essentially, it gives Soldiers interested in becoming warrant officers a chance to see what’s to come and an opportunity to verify that they have what it takes to complete the course. It condenses many of the challenges they’ll face on the road to becoming warrant officers into two and a half days.
From there, the Soldiers moved on to Phase I of WOCS, the distance learning phase of the course. Here, the Soldiers built a base of knowledge to prepare them for their careers as warrant officers.
In Phase II, candidates attended five drill weekends at Fort Pickett where they worked on academics, physical challenges and other team building events, like building a sign, developing a class song and planning and executing a community service project.
Finally, the candidates headed off to Alabama for the third and final phase of WOCS, a 15-day annual training period. Over the final two weeks of their WOCS experience, the candidates train in the class room and in the field, on both academic and tactical skills, completing exams, road marches and activities that test them both mentally and physically.
“This was an outstanding class overall,” Martin said. “And our largest since 2013. We began with 11 candidates and graduated 10.”