Kentucky graduates largest warrant officer class

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs

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The newest graduates of the Kentucky National Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School stand at attention during a ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 23, 2013. The new warrant officers recently completed the school and were commissioned Sept. 21 at Camp Atterbury, Ind. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The small family that is the Kentucky Army National Guard’s Warrant Officer Corp got a little bigger with the commissioning of 12 new warrant officers, Sept. 21, 2013.

The Soldiers had just completed the final two-week phase of Warrant Officer Candidate School at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Edinburgh, Ind. Following the graduation there, the new warrant officers returned home for a recognition ceremony at the Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 23.

“On Saturday (Sept. 21), their military careers took on a whole new look, and a whole new responsibility,” said Kentucky’s State Command Chief Warrant Officer James Simms. ” This class represents the largest we’ve had, so the future is looking good for the warrant officer in Kentucky.”

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Col. Hal Lamberton, commander of the 238th Regiment congratulates each graduate of the Kentucky National Guard’s newest Warrant Officer Candidate School class during a ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 23, 2013. The 12-member class represented the largest graduating class for the 238th and their WOCS. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

The candidates started down the commissioning road around the beginning of the year, spending the majority of their time in training one weekend a month with the 238th Regimental Training Institute (RTI) in Greenville, Ky.

Warrant Officer Candidate School is made up of four phases: an on-line phase for preparatory course work, two phases of training with the 238th at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center followed by the final phase at Camp Atterbury.

Kentucky’s RTI was recently named an Institute of Excellence by the U.S. Army and has been expanding it’s role as the state’s premier training facility, taking on new courses and more students.  The unit has also impressed other states and other components with its availability and course offerings.

For two of the new warrant officers in the class, that’s just what they were looking for, because neither one are from the Kentucky Guard.  Warrant Officer Arthur Stevens is an Army Reservist from the 378th Military Police Detachment in Louisville, Ky., but he lives in Clarksville, Tenn. Stevens said he had issues scheduling his school around his job and had never heard of the RTI. He said the decision worked perfectly with his work schedule and Reserve drill weekends.

“The only way I could have done this is with the RTI,” said the 13-year Veteran. “When I go back, I’m going to tell everyone I know that this is the way to go.”

“It was a great all-around experience,” Stevens said of the training. “It was great that the Guard took me in and made me part of the team.”

Simms said the Kentucky National Guard will help anyone become a warrant officer, regardless of their state or component.  Warrant officers across the country work hand in hand with advanced courses and problem-solving and Simms believes they should work together to create new warrant officers as well.

“Thanks to skilled recruiters, quality leadership in the units and a fine training element we have in the 238th, we can make that happen here,” he said.

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Brig. Gen. Stephen Hogan, assistant adjutant general for training recognizes Warrant Officer Amy Meadows as the honor graduate of the newest Warrant Officer Candidate School class during a ceremony in Frankfort, Ky., Sept. 23, 2013. Meadows, a Soldier with the Tennessee National Guard, chose Kentucky’s course because it allowed her to juggle work, college and becoming a warrant officer. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Warrant Officer Amy Meadows is with the Tennessee National Guard and also didn’t know how to deal with her full schedule of work and school. She knew the school would be longer than going through the traditional course at Fort Rucker, Ala., but had heard great things about the training provided by the 238th.

“I chose to go to Kentucky’s RTI because I needed another option,” she said. “I’m a full-time student and I work full-time at my civilian job, so I needed an option that allowed me to do all three, and the RTI was the best fit for my life.”

Meadows, from Mt. Juliet, Tenn., also graduated as the honor graduate of the class and said she has had always had respect for warrant officers, who always the ones who had the right answers.

“I’m a big believer in continuing knowledge and self-development,” she said. “And warrant officers are the pulse, the continuity of the Army, and I just wanted to be a part of it.”

Meadows will now be the Soldier everyone looks to for answers at the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Knoxville, Tenn.

Each of the new warrant officers will now schedule and attend their job specific warrant officer basic course.  But the training doesn’t stop there. To be the experts in their fields, warrant officers continually educate themselves for the benefit of themselves and their units. And from the regimental commander to each training, advising and counseling (TAC) officer, the 238th is glad to be instrumental in furthering the careers of the Army’s future leaders.

“We’re focused on building a stronger and more capable Warrant Officer Corps, the new leaders in the field,” said Chief Warrant officer Rick Skelton, TAC Officer with the 238th. “And I believe we are making good strides in doing our part here in Kentucky at the 238th.”

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