Soldier an honor graduate in more ways than one

Story and photos by David Altom, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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Pvt. Darrick White is flanked by two of the Kentucky National Guard’s top mentors, State Command Sgt. Maj. Greg Armstrong and State Command Chief Warrant Officer Jimmy Simms. An honor graduate from the Guard’s Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy, White went on to become honor graduate during his basic training and AIT classes. (Kentucky National Guard photo by David Altom)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Pvt. Darrick White is a man with a purpose.   A high school dropout with issues at home, he was determined to do something to get out of the rut and make a difference in his life.  He got word of the Kentucky National Guard’s Youth ChalleNGe program and decided that might just be the ticket.

“I heard about the Youth ChalleNGe program and saw that as a way of getting my life going,” said White.  “It turned out that I really enjoyed it.  I learned so much there.  I can tell you for sure that it definitely helps get you straight and set you up for what comes later in life.”

White loved the experience so much that at the end of his 22 weeks at the Appalachian ChalleNGe Academy in Harlan he was selected the honor graduate.

His next step?  Join the National Guard, of course.

“I wanted to do something to serve and this seemed the best route for me,” he said.  “I really like it a lot!”

White joined up last January and went to basic and advanced individual training at Fort Sill, Ok. where he was once again ranked as his class honor graduate.

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State Command Sgt. Maj. Greg Armstrong looks on as Pvt. Darrick White receives a command coin from State Command Chief Warrant Officer Jimmy Simms. (Kentucky National Guard photo by David Altom)

“What you’ve done is a significant accomplishment,” said State Command Sgt. Maj. Armstrong told white during a recent visit with senior Guard leaders at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort.

“By taking the initiative the way he has, this young man has done something that not many people could achieve,” said Armstrong.  “It speaks to his courage and his determination to do something positive with his life.  That, to me, is very impressive.”

White also received a coin from State Command Chief Warrant Officer Jimmy Simms, the ranking member of the Kentucky National Guard’s warrant officer corps.  Simms encouraged White to keep up the good work and stay on course.

“We definitely need people like this in the Guard,” Simms said.  “To come so far in such a short amount of time, and on your own initiative, that’s awesome!  I know for sure I can use more like him in the warrant officer corps.”

White is currently assigned to Detachment 1, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion 149th Infantry where he serves as a forward observer.

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