Virginia National Guard OCS graduates and commissions 11 new officers

Eleven officer candidates enrolled in the Virginia Army National Guard’s traditional and accelerated Officer Candidate School receive their commissions and graduate from OCS Aug. 17, 2019, at Fort Pickett’s 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute in front of family, friends and Virginia Army National Guard senior leaders. Retired Brig. Gen. Walter L. Mercer served as the guest speaker for graduating classes 61 and 62B. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Lisa M. Sadler)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Virginia National Guard welcomed 11 new second lieutenants from Officer Candidate School Class 61 and 62B in a combined commissioning ceremony held Aug. 17, 2019, at Fort Pickett’s 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute. Lt. Col. James C. Shaver Jr., 3rd Battalion, 183rd RTI commander, administered the oath of office to the graduates, and Col. Todd Hubbard, 183rd RTI commander, introduced and welcomed the guest speaker, retired Brig. Gen. Walter L. Mercer, the former assistant adjutant general of Virginia. Mercer asked the newly commissioned officers to reflect on what led them to become officers.

Lt. Col. James C. Shaver Jr., 3rd Battalion, 183rd RTI commander, administered the oath of office to the graduates, and Col. Todd Hubbard, 183rd RTI commander, introduced and welcomed the guest speaker, retired Brig. Gen. Walter L. Mercer, the former assistant adjutant general of Virginia.

Mercer asked the newly commissioned officers to reflect on what led them to become officers.

“The decision was made because somewhere in you there was a desire to serve our nation and state,” Mercer said. He reminded them of the Warrior Ethos and the Army Values. “How many institutes in our society today hold these values and expectations,” asked Mercer. “I would argue there are very few.”

Mercer closed the speech with three thoughts about what makes a good leader: To be humble and selfless, to care about the organization, the people, Soldiers and family members, and to be good leaders through communication.

“When your Soldiers perform well and make sacrifices even when you are not around, you’ll know you have done something right as a leader,” he said.

Following the speech, several candidates received awards before they took their oath. Officer Candidate Garion T. Urbanek received the most coveted award, the Erickson Trophy, after being named distinguished honor graduate for his OCS class. Urbanek also received the Commandant’s Award for Academic Achievement for having the highest academic average with an average score of 93 percent.

“The challenges I faced during OCS were many but none more than making the transition from being told what to do to being the one making the decisions,” said Urbanek. “It was a big mental shift that required a lot of brainpower. Finding the confidence and executing on the plans we made challenged myself as well as my classmates, and made us better, all-around Soldiers.”

Second Lt. Larry S. Russell poses with his wife during his graduation from the Virginia Army National Guard’s Officer Candidate School Aug. 17, 2019, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Lisa M. Sadler)

Urbanek stated his most significant accomplishment while attending OCS was learning how to balance a career in the National Guard as well as his civilian life.

“You learn what is important in life and how important it is to make that a priority,” he said.

Officer Candidate Larry S. Russel earned the highest overall leadership ratings during all three stages of the course and received the Leadership Excellence Award.

“In the beginning, it’s really hard to appreciate what the cadre are trying to do,” said Russel. “There’s a lot of physically and mentally trying days, but as the course moves on, the cadre becomes your most valued mentors.”

Officer Candidate Jonathan A. Rumbaugh received the Col. James B. Moore III Award, named after the first commandant of Virginia’s Officer Candidate School. The award goes to the candidate who made the most progress during the course. Rumbaugh also earned an Army Achievement Medal for having the highest physical fitness score, scoring a 271 out of a possible 300 points no the Army Physical Fitness Test.

The Harry Q. Rose Award, given by the Virginia National Guard Association, recognizes the candidate who has distinguished him or herself in leadership throughout the program. The award, named after Capt. Harry Q. Rose, the only graduate of the school to have given his life in the service for his country, was presented to Officer Candidate John J. Lam.

The final award presented during the ceremony was the Maj. William T. “Tom” Bell Commandant Award for Leadership Excellence. This award is presented each class to a cadre member who the candidates felt had a significant impact on their growth and development as future leaders. The award this year was presented to Capt. Joshua N. Hillsman.

The graduating class of the Virginia National Guard’s Officer Candidate School Class 61 is as follows:

  • 2nd Lt. Kyle R. Gibson is branching field artillery and will serve as a fire support officer with Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
  • 2nd Lt. John J. Lam is branching signal corps and will serve as a platoon leader with the Fredericksburg-based Charlie Company, 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Alan C. Leung is branching military intelligence and will serve as a platoon leader with Manassas-based Delta Company, 229th BEB, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Jonathan A. Rumbaugh is branching armor and will serve as a platoon leader with Suffolk-based Bravo Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Larry S. Russell is branching field artillery and will serve as a fire support officer with Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Evan W. Seay is branching military intelligence and will serve as the Assistant S2 with 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Garion T. Urbanek is branching ordnance and will serve as the maintenance control officer with Franklin-based Delta Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th IBCT.

The graduating class of the Virginia National Guard’s Officer Candidate School Class 62B is as follows:

  • 2nd Lt. Ryan J. Croft is branching adjutant general corps and will serve as a personnel staff officer with Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Anthony K. Hopkins is branching cyber corps and will serve as a platoon leader with Bowling Green-based 91st Cyber Brigade.
  • 2nd Lt. Dana E. Miller is branching infantry and will serve as a platoon leader with Woodstock-based Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Shaun M. Taylor is branching military intelligence and will serve as an intelligence officer for the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group.

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