Oct. 29, 2010

Virginia Guard welcomes new warrant officers at recognition ceremony 

By Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne        
Virginia Guard Public Affairs      

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Virginia National Guard welcomed seven new warrant officers to the organization during a Warrant Officer Recognition Ceremony Oct. 23 at the Fort Pickett post theater. Since warrant officers are appointed at either a Federal Recognition Board, the Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Ala., or a Regional Training Institute like Camp Atterbury, Ind., or Fort McClellan, Ala., this was the first chance for many of the family members to celebrate the Soldiers’ transition to the warrant officer corps.

 

The Virginia National Guard welcomed seven new warrant officers during a Warrant Officer Recognition Ceremony Oct. 23 at the Fort Pickett post theater. Since warrant officers are apppointed at either a Federal Recognition Board, the Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Ala., or a Regional Training Institute like Camp Atterbury, Ind., or Fort McClellan, Ala., this was the first chance for many of the family members to celebrate the Soldiers' transition to the warrant officer corps. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, Maj. Gen. Frank Batts, the 29th Infantry Division commander, Brig. Gen. William R. Phillips, the assistant Adjutant General Army, and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Eddie H. Whitt, the Virginia command chief warrant officer, were among those on hand for the ceremony.  

The Soldiers recognized at the ceremony were- Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Brown, Warrant Officer Maurice Christian, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Douglas Harris, Warrant Officer Antoinette M. Kunka, Warrant Officer Michael D. Rice, Warrant Officer Bill A. Salas, and Warrant Officer Lamont T. Taylor.

In addition to congratulating the Soldiers for their accomplishment, Long applauded the family member support that enabled the Soldiers to pursue their goals of become warrant officers.

“I want to thank all the family members here,” Long said. “Without the support of their families, these Soldiers wouldn’t be here today.”

Long’s own memory of working alongside warrant officers goes back to when he first enlisted in the Virginia Guard and was sworn in by a warrant officer. As he moved up the ranks, he met more and more warrant officers and realized the important role they play in the Army. To be a successful warrant officer, he said, you need to have technical expertise and leadership skills.

 

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chris Johnson congratulates Warrant Officer Bill A. Salas as the Virginia National Guard welcomed seven new warrant officers during a Warrant Officer Recognition Ceremony Oct. 23 at the Fort Pickett post theater. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class A.J. Coyne, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“You’re going to be deploying to dangerous places and making important decisions,” he told the Soldiers being recognized. “When you do, think back to your instructors and what they taught you. They trained you to make decisions and be leaders.”

Long cited former football coach Lou Holtz when he talked about three things people are looking for in a winner. The first is whether their leader cares about them. The second is whether that leader can be trusted. The third is whether or not that leader is committed to excellence. 

“Your Soldiers want to know you care about them and put their needs above your own,” Long said. “They want to know if you’re going to make the right decision when the time comes. And they want to know you’re committed to doing your best.” 

“You’re the future of the warrant officer corps,” Whitt told the Soldiers being recognized. “I challenge each and every one of you to do the best job you can. Take care of your Soldiers and they will take care of you.”

Kunka, an eight-year veteran of the Virginia Guard, was a sergeant assigned to the Fort Pickett Mobilization and Training Equipment Site before becoming a warrant officer.

“I felt my career was ready for the next step,” she explained. “But I like the supply field and wanted to stay in it.”

She will now be a supply technician for the 529th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion when the unit returns from its current mobilization and continue in her full-time position as a technician for the Virginia Army Guard’s Logistics office at Fort Pickett. 

The single mom attended the warrant officer course at the 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute at Fort Pickett and thought, although the course was tough, it was also rewarding.

“The course was great and the instructors were knowledgeable,” she said. “The instructors really want us to be the best we can be.”

Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Brown was a sergeant first class in the 1710th Transportation Company before he became a warrant officer. A former active-duty Marine, Brown has been in the Virginia Guard for 22 years and he hopes his new rank and years of experience will help him to help the unit.

“When I deployed to Iraq, I didn’t have a warrant officer,” he recalled. “But I saw others who did and I saw what a difference it could make. Warrant officers have a lot of experience and a level of respect that others don’t. I want to share my experience and have more responsibility for my Soldiers.”

Brown’s wife Janet was there to celebrate her husband’s new rank and shared her thoughts on why he decided to become a warrant officer.

“It makes me proud to know he wants to be a better leader,” she said. “He did it because he cares about Soldiers. He really cares about his Soldiers.”

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