Fifteen Florida Army National Guard’s officers graduate from leadership program

Written by  //  August 19, 2012  //  Feature Stories

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Graduates of the Florida Army National Guard Officer Candidate School Class 51 at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla., Aug. 18, 2012. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

Graduates of the Florida Army National Guard Officer Candidate School Class 51 at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla., Aug. 18, 2012. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

CAMP BLANDING JOINT TRAINING CENTER, Fla. (Aug. 19, 2012) – Their motto was “Get it done, Fifty-One,” and the graduates of the Florida Army National Guard Officer Candidate School (OCS) Class 51 definitely lived up to their maxim this weekend.

The Soldiers graduated from the OCS program during a military ceremony held Aug. 18 at the Kennedy Bullard Armory at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.

This year’s class began with nearly 28 candidates, but only 15 completed the grueling academics and physical challenges of the course; the 18-month Florida OCS program mirrors the curriculum of the U.S. Army active duty course.

Family members pin on second lieutenant bars on the graduates of the Florida National Guard Officer Candidate School at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Fla., Aug. 18, 2012. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

“I’m confident that our selection and training processes have yielded the best possible leaders for our immediate and future challenges,” Assistant Adjutant General for Army Maj. Gen. James Tyre told the graduates during his keynote address.

He noted that the new second lieutenants will serve in leadership positions in Army National Guard units throughout the state, and will now be expected to accept responsibility for not just themselves, but for the Soldiers serving under them.

“You have demonstrated a desire and an ability to lead others,” Tyre said. “And I laud your dedication to this noble calling.”

Since the Florida Army National Guard OCS began in 1961, nearly 2,000 young officers have graduated from the program.

Second Lt. Jacob Wielock, who was awarded both for Academic and Physical Fitness achievements, was also named the Class 51 Distinguished Graduate and was presented the Erickson Trophy for attaining the highest overall average in leadership, academics and physical fitness.

Also during the ceremony Kyle Padgett received the Association of the United States Army Leadership Award, and former Commander of the 53rd Infantry Brigade Brig. Gen. (ret.) Mitch Perryman was presented with the OCS program’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

The graduates represented communities throughout Florida. The candidates from Class 51 and their hometowns are: Robert Alleyne, Melbourne; Carla Avellanet, Coconut Creek; Joshua Campbell, St. Petersburg; Octavias Daniels, Tallahassee; Raymond Haar III, Cutler Bay; Jeffrey Hammill, Sarasota; Stephen Meinholz, Gainesville; Brian Opachich, Jacksonville; Michael Ozemba, Tallahassee; Kyle Padgett, Macclenny; Shane Robinson, Tallahassee; Brandon Sugg, Cape Coral; Talal Tassi, Tampa; Jacob Wielock, Panama City; and Derek Yeager, Kissimmee.

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