Virginia Guard WOCS present class sign

Warrant officer candidates of Class 14-001 present their class sign June 29, 2014, at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute to cadre of the Virginia Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School, senior leaders of the RTI, warrant officers from across the commonwealth and their VIP guess, retired Virginia Guard Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ron Saylor. The successful presentation of the sign earned the candidates talking and dessert rights for the next few meals and they also presented their class song at the request of Saylor. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Warrant officer candidates of Class 14-001 present their class sign June 29, 2014, at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute to cadre of the Virginia Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School, senior leaders of the RTI, warrant officers from across the commonwealth and their VIP guess, retired Virginia Guard Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ron Saylor. The successful presentation of the sign earned the candidates talking and dessert rights for the next few meals and they also presented their class song at the request of Saylor. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Warrant officer candidates enrolled in Class 14-001 of the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute’s Warrant Officer Candidate School presented their class sign June 29, 2014, to a group of gathered RTI senior leaders, Virginia National Guard warrant officers and WOCS cadre members, along with the guest of honor, retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ron Saylor, who formerly served in the Virginia Guard.

“The song and sign presentations are team building events that they have to do outside of a normal drill weekend,” explained Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian Temple, commander and course manager for the Virginia Guard WOCS. “It builds espirt de corps, it builds team unity, it builds trust amongst the candidates because they have to commit to doing these types of things on their own time.”

The ceremony began when the candidates marched into place, near their sign at the RTI. Saylor, as the guest of honor, played a key role in the ceremony, telling the candidates to unveil their sign and then giving his feedback to the candidates on the work they did as a class to build the orange and Viking-themed sign.

Once Saylor gave his approval on the sign, the candidates presented Saylor with a one of their hats, signed by all members of the class and asked if there were any additional requests he had of the candidates. Saylor requested that they sign their class song for them, which they did, and then Saylor awarded the class talking and dessert privileges for the next several meals.

Saylor also presented a heritage painting to the WOCS program.

“He represents longevity in the corps,” explained Temple. “He represents somebody who has been there and done that, and when you’re a new WO1 and your future is completely and totally ahead of you, when they see the senior folks, it gives them a focal point to start achieving the great things that we hope they’ll achieve.”

Warrant officer candidates of Class 14-001 present their class sign June 29, 2014, at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute to cadre of the Virginia Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School, senior leaders of the RTI, warrant officers from across the commonwealth and their VIP guess, retired Virginia Guard Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ron Saylor.  (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Warrant officer candidates of Class 14-001 present their class sign June 29, 2014, at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute to cadre of the Virginia Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School, senior leaders of the RTI, warrant officers from across the commonwealth and their VIP guess, retired Virginia Guard Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ron Saylor. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

The class sign presentation, along with the song presentation conducted the day before, are milestones for the candidates that reflect their ascent to the intermediate phase of WOCS. The eight candidates established themselves with their class sign and newly-donned class t-shirts as the Orange Vikings for the ceremonies.

Both the song and sign ceremonies are traditions developed at the Fort Rucker Warrant Officer Candidate School, and the Virginia Guard WOCS cadre members take pride in establishing those traditions in their reserve component course. Many RC courses skip the ceremonies, opting instead for a generic sign, but the Virginia program sets itself apart by making the ceremonies integral parts of the course.

“It’s part of our program for a chance to make the candidates work together to come up with a theme, to work together and develop as a team and it shows esprit de corps and it’s also something for them to leave behind from their class,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 William D. Lyles, Command Chief Warrant Officer for the Virginia National Guard.

The sign made by the candidates leaves a lasting legacy at the schoolhouse, where it will be hung in the halls of the WOCS building for future candidates to view.

“It gives you that sense of identity that comes with that class,” Temple said. “It gives them something to brag about.”

In the coming months, the candidates will travel to Camp Atterbury, Ind., for Phase III of WOCS where they will complete the program and be awarded the rank of WO1.

Photos: Virginia Guard WOCs present class sign – June 29, 2014