– The most recent graduates of Officer Candidate School Class 76 from the Regional Training Institute at Camp Edwards, along with graduates from the Accelerated OCS program from the Alabama Military Academy, as well as Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and direct commission candidates, were commissioned as second lieutenants in the historic Faneuil Hall of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company on August 8, 2009.
Maj. Gen. Joseph C. Carter, The Adjutant General of the Massachusetts National Guard, hosted the day’s event known as The Adjutant General’s Annual Officer Commissioning and Welcoming Ceremony along with other distinguished guests including Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Sellars, Massachusetts Army National Guard Commander, Col. Joe Burch, Regional Training Institute Commandant and Brig. Gen. Emery A. Maddocks of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.
Following the ceremonial posting of the colors by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment Honor Guard Maddocks gave his opening remarks saying that quietly doing the right thing is the core tenant of leadership.
Burch then gave his remarks, offering advice to the officer candidates about to be commissioned, “Noncommissioned officers are the backbone of the Army National Guard, include them in your decision-making process and I know you will continue to make a difference in this challenging time of our nation’s history.”
Carter reminisced during his remarks on how the number of candidates dwindled as this OCS cycle progressed: from twenty at the start to seven candidates at the RTI Ball on March 7, 2009. From there, only five candidates remained to receive commission. In closing, Carter advised those Soldiers who did not make commission to continue to pursue excellence in their careers as National Guard members.
One of those five dedicated Soldiers who completed OCS was Officer Candidate Danielle Sullivan, who approached the podium to give her response on behalf of Class 76. Sullivan recognized the ceremony as being the first time in the history of the National Guard that officer candidates from OCS, Accelerated OCS, ROTC and direct commission were welcomed together in one ceremony. In addition, Class 76 marks the first time in the history of OCS at the RTI that female graduates outnumbered the male graduates. In the beginning of Class 76’s cycle, there were three females and 17 males; all three female Soldiers were about to be commissioned.
“We have accomplished things we never thought we were capable of,” said Sullivan on the arduous challenges they faced during OCS. “But the moment we stop, [is] the moment we are no longer effective leaders.”
The graduates of OCS and Accelerated OCS finally stood at attention before The Adjutant General to be pinned by family members, officially commissioning them as second lieutenants in the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
The newly commissioned officers face even more challenges ahead, according to Sgt. 1st Class Raymond A. Fisher, one of the three cadre members who conducted OCS Class 76, the biggest challenge for them will be overcoming the expectations of being second lieutenants. “They will need to get with their senior NCOs on how to work with subordinates,” said Fisher.
Officer Candidate Jose Alas-Ruiz, a former sergeant and enlisted Soldier for ten years with both the active Army and the Massachusetts Army National Guard received his commission at the ceremony after completing the Accelerated OCS program in Alabama. “The hardest part is that you can quit anytime, it’s not a requirement. You have to stay motivated,” he said.