Virginia National Guard commissions 11 new officers

Eleven officer candidates enrolled in the Virginia Army National Guard’s Officer Candidate School receive their commissions and graduate from OCS Oct. 18, 2020, at Fort Pickett’s 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute in front of family, friends, and Virginia Army National Guard senior leaders. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Lisa M. Sadler)

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Virginia National Guard welcomed 11 new lieutenants to its ranks with the commissioning of Officer Candidate School Class 62 Oct. 18, 2020, in a ceremony held at Fort Pickett’s 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute.

Col. Charles B. Martin, 183rd RTI commander, provided opening remarks during the ceremony, while Brig. Gen. James Zollar, Assistant Adjutant General for Army Strategic Initiatives, served as guest speaker for the event.

Zollar spoke to the candidates about reflection, expectations and the importance of having encouragement from their family and peers.

“You cannot be successful in this profession without support, love and understanding from your family,” Zollar said, stressing to the candidates that getting their families involved early is one key to success. “You can’t do this alone.”

Before administering the oath of office to the candidates, Zollar encouraged them to be agile, adaptive and to always be prepared.

“To endure physical hardship, danger and uncertainty; to share hardships with their subordinates, the warrior ethos exemplifies perseverance, sacrifice and tenacity,” Zollar said. “As a leader, you must have empathy and humility.”

After taking their oath, the candidates met with families outside and filed in one-by-one to complete the graduation process in order to limit the number of people inside at one time due to the ongoing pandemic.

Lt. Col. James C. Shaver, commander of 3rd Battalion, 183rd RTI, presented awards to the highest achieving members of OCS Class 62.

Officer Candidate Patrick McWilliams received the most coveted award, the Erickson Trophy, after being named distinguished honor graduate for Class 62.

Officer Candidate John Kerns received the Col. James B. Moore III Award, named after the first commandant of Virginia’s Officer Candidate School. This award recognizes the candidate who made the most progress during the course.

Officer Candidate Jeffrey Haich received the Leadership Excellence Award for the highest overall leadership ratings during all three stages of OCS.

Officer Candidate Kara Arbogast received both the Physical Fitness Award, which honors the candidate with the highest fitness score over the duration of the course, and the Commandants Award for Academic Achievement, presented to the graduate with the highest academic average.

Arbogast stated that mental resiliency was her biggest challenge but she had several motivating factors that pushed her through.

“OCS is long, and a lot of life happens outside of drill, so it’s important for you to get to know your teammates,” she said. “Learn how to support each other and when necessary, have those difficult conversations. You are a team, and you should always encourage your classmates.”

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

  • 2nd Lt. Kara Arbogast is branching chemical and will report to the Rocky Mount-based 229th Chemical Company, 1030th Transportation Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group.
  • 2nd Lt. Tiara Carr is branching quartermaster and will report to Winchester-based Hotel Company, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
  • 2nd Lt. Chadwick Desseyn is branching infantry and will report to Lexington-based Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Jeffery Haich is branching military intelligence and will report to Manassas-based Delta Company, 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Jonathan Haith is branching adjutant general’s corps and will report to Danville-based 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Evan Jones is branching cyber and will report to Fairfax-based 124th Cyber Protection Battalion, 91st Cyber Brigade.
  • 2nd Lt. Sam Jones is branching signal and will report to Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th RSG.
  • 2nd Lt. John Kearns is branching field artillery and will report to Hanover-based Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Patrick McWilliams is branching engineer and will report to Cedar Bluff-based 1033rd Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th RSG.
  • 2nd Lt. TyReak Murray is branching armor and will report to Virginia Beach-based Charlie Troop, 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th IBCT.
  • 2nd Lt. Justin Park is branching field artillery and will report to Hanover-based Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th IBCT.