Kentucky Army Guard conducts first ever combined officer and warrant officer graduation

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Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Oliver, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office

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The Kentucky Army National Guard newest second lieutenants and warrant officers graduate together during a ceremony at the state capitol in Frankfort, Ky. Aug. 20. (photo by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Oliver, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Last Saturday was an historic day for the Kentucky Army National Guard with its first combined officer and warrant officer candidate school graduation at the state capitol building in Frankfort.

Twenty-four new second lieutenants and eight new warrant officers were presented to a crowd of family and friends on the same steps where the state’s governors are inaugurated.

Kentucky’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini presided over the event.

“These graduates here today are on a first step of an extraordinary career and an extraordinary life,” said Tonini.  “They will expect to lead, communicate, advice and set the example where ever they go and whatever they do.”

The graduating OCS class includes:

Denis Babiyev, Paul Bland, Keith Broughton, John Furse, Jacob Garfinkel, Rachel Hamrick, Michael Hart, Charles Hilpp, Marlon Jones, Sean Jones, Daniel Keaton, Daniel Kimball, Brian Ladd, Geoffrey Lawson, Ryan Leamon, Don Lewis III, Steven Morgan, Adela Ortiz, Nicholas Prouse, Doyle Stephens, Derek Suhre, Joseph Thompson, Paul Wilkerson and Bryson Yarbrough.

The graduating WOCS class includes:

Howard Barcus, Robert Boatman, Morgan Howell, Brandon Layne, Brian Piatt, Christopher Ralston, Matthew Sterwerf and LeRoy Wolpert.

The candidates began the process more than a year ago through the traditional program while a few candidates took the accelerated route several weeks ago.  They took on intense training that tested their mental and physical capabilities.

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, state adjutant general, presents Adela Ortiz, 103rd Brigade Support Battalion, her officer candidate graduation certificate at a ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 20. (photo by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Oliver, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

“OCS is like basic training on steroids.  You had to maintain physical fitness throughout course,” says 2nd Lt. Adela Ortiz, 103rd Brigade Support Battalion.

Highlighting the morning was the pinning ceremony.  Each candidate received their shiny gold bars from various family members.  A new look for the officers and their families.

“Amplified the pride I already have in the Kentucky National Guard and in my husband,” says Isabel Jones, wife of 2ndLt. Marlon Jones.  “It’s a great day for our family.”

Kentucky Army National Guardsman Marlon Jones, 2/138th Field Artillery Battalion, stands at attention while his wife Isabel and daughter Karmyn pins on his second lieutenant rank at a graduation ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Aug. 20. (photo by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Oliver, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

The 238th Regiment 53rd officer candidate class and the first warrant officer class start their careers together with something in common — being a part of history with the first combined graduation class in the Kentucky National Guard.

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