Sage words of advice accompanied the oath of office for nearly two dozen newly minted second lieutenants and warrant officers during a commissioning ceremony Oct. 10 at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
“As you embark as a leader, always remember that it is a privilege to serve,” said Col. Gregory Hirsch, commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 426th Regional Training Regiment, which conducts the officer candidate and warrant officer candidate courses. “In an ever-changing and volatile world, you’ll face daunting challenges. You have my faith that you’ll face these head-on.”
Several months of rigorous leadership challenges, grueling academic requirements and demanding field problems yielded 13 officers and 10 warrant officers. Retired Brig. Gen. Dominic Cariello, guest speaker for the ceremony, recalled his days in officer candidate school more than three decades ago, and thanked family members for supporting their Soldier throughout the course.
“Today you take on a great responsibility,” Cariello told the young officers, “that of being a leader responsible for the lives of the Soldiers you lead, the equipment that is under your control and the funds that are allocated for training and preparing for domestic emergencies and deployments to foreign lands for training exercises or for war.
“Remember: mission first, but people always,” Cariello continued. “Being a leader of the sons and daughters of our great nation is a privilege — it’s not a right — and today that privilege is going to be bestowed upon you.”
The former assistant adjutant general for readiness and training told the state’s newest officers that world events put each of them in a position of leadership to do what is right for Wisconsin and the nation.
“After you pin those bars on today, this is no longer just about you — it’s about those Soldiers, other service members, the missions, your families, and most importantly, this nation of ours,” Cariello said. “You represent all of them.”
Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, advised the new officers to trust their instincts, which may be their only guidance in a bewildering situation. He reminded them that the aim of their decisions must always be about their Soldiers. And he called on them to remember the Wisconsin National Guard’s legacy.
“This National Guard was on the field at Gettysburg,” Dunbar said. “This National Guard was in Europe in World War I and in the Pacific in World War II. This National Guard was in Korea. This National Guard was mobilized for Berlin in 1961. This National Guard has been on the field throughout the Middle East during these latest conflicts.
“You are part of something very special,” he continued. “That legacy is important. But never lose sight of the fact that you are joining a National Guard that is better than it was 10 years ago, better than it was 50 years ago, and not nearly as good as it needs to be — and that’s where you come in. Never think for a second that you can’t improve this fine organization. You have to make your contribution. We wouldn’t be here today if we didn’t have full confidence in you.”
Cariello echoed that sentiment.
“Keep your wits,” Cariello said. “Make the right decisions. Think of the things you need to get done, and do them. Be skillful at what you do. Be the consummate professional in your military career — a leader in the Wisconsin Army National Guard, the state of Wisconsin and this great nation.”
Dunbar congratulated the new officers on their achievement.
“It’s a big day,” he acknowledged. “Relish it, enjoy it — and then get on with the business of being an officer and warrant officer.”
Officer Candidate School Class 57 and Class 57B graduates include: Alyssa Brenner, field artillery, assigned to Battery A, 120th Field Artillery in Marshfield, Wisconsin; Daniel Bruins, engineer corps, assigned to Detachment 1, 829th Engineer Company in Richland Center, Wisconsin; Shane Donovan, chemical corps, assigned to Headquarters Company, 157th maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Milwaukee; Kevin Grahn, transportation corps, assigned to Company H, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion in Neillsville, Wisconsin; Gabriella Jacobsen, quartermaster corps, assigned to Detachment 1, Company A, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion in Elkhorn, Wisconsin; Robert Koppelman, engineer corps, assigned to Headquarters Company, 173rd Brigade Engineer Battalion in Tomahawk, Wisconsin; Ryan Schnake, military police, assigned to the 32nd Military Police Company in Milwaukee; and Daniel Swanson, field artillery, assigned to Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 120th Field Artillery in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.
Warrant Officer Candidate School Class 15-001 graduates include: Patrick Bright, ordnance corps, assigned to Company B, 257th Brigade Support Battalion in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; Cassidy Hickman, chemical corps, assigned to Headquarters and Service Battery, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery in Milwaukee; Derek Loehr, ordnance corps, assigned to the 85th Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve in Arlington Heights, Illinois; James Tessmer, ordnance corps, assigned to Company E, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion in Waupaca; and Cory Wendt, transportation corps, assigned to Joint Force Headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin.
Justin Allbee, Angela Campione, Erin Corrin, Kevin Pulvermacher, Danial Sauter and Andrew Sparks were not at the commissioning ceremony. Additionally, Allbee, Joseph Fendt, Jordan McKeen, Joseph Rasmussen and David Sisco opted to not accept their commissions right away.
Gen. Edgar C. Erickson Award: 2nd Lt. Daniel Bruins; Outstanding Academic Achievement Award: 2nd Lt. Daniel Bruins; American Legion Award: 2nd Lt. Alyssa Brenner; Leadership Excellence Award: 2nd Lt. Kevin Pulvermacher; Class President Award: 2nd Lt. Daniel Bruins; Outstanding Senior Candidate Award: 2nd Lt. Daniel Bruins; 426th Regimental Leadership Excellence Award: 2nd Lt. Justin Allbee; AMVETS Physical Fitness Award: 2nd Lt. Robert Koppelman.
Eagle Award: Warrant Officer Candidate David Sisco; Leadership Excellence Award: Warrant Officer 1 Cassidy Hickman; Outstanding Academic Achievement Award: Warrant Officer Candidate David Sisco; Physical Fitness Award: Warrant Officer 1 Cassidy Hickman.