BOURNE, Mass. - The largest Massachusetts Military Academy Officer Candidate School Class in more than two decades graduated Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012 at Camp Edwards, Mass.
"I'm excited to see you, the largest class we've had in 22 years, become part of history," said Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, acting Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, during the ceremony.
In all, 28 officer candidates became second lieutenants, including 19 traditional candidates from MMA OCS Class 79, and nine from accelerated OCS Class 0A2.
The traditional OCS course consists of three months of drill weekends and two weeks of active duty training, followed by 11 more months of drill weekends and two final weeks of active duty training. The accelerated course consists of three months of drill weekends, followed by eight weeks of active duty training.
Interestingly, the traditional and accelerated courses join up for the final two weeks of active duty training, known as Phase III. Those officer candidates that complete Phase III return to Massachusetts for graduation.
Roughly one-third of those who start Phase I of OCS do not finish the course. The graduates pin on the rank of second lieutenant and begin a career as an officer in the U.S. Army and the Massachusetts National Guard.
"My most important piece of advice to you as you progress in your careers is don't be afraid to ask for help," said Col. Charles H. Perenick, commandant of the MMA, addressing the graduates. "I've been an officer for 32 years, and I would not be where I am today without help from many of my fellow guard members, including some of our honored guests and the staff here today."
For nearly 100 years, the Massachusetts Military Academy, the oldest state-run academy in the nation, has prepared graduates for higher levels of leadership and responsibility in the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
In 1912, there was a need for formal military instruction for future Massachusetts National Guard second lieutenants. Brig. Gen. Gardner W. Pearson, then the Adjutant General, authorized the establishment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia Training School in June 1913.
Since then, the school suspended classes on only three occasions: The border crisis with Mexico, World War I and World War II. Since its inception, the school has been redesignated twice: first in 1935 as the Massachusetts Military Academy and second in 1996 as the 101st Regiment, however, Massachusetts Military Academy remains the traditional state designation.