FORT PICKETT, Va. – The Virginia National Guard welcomed three new second lieutenants from Officer Candidate School Class 62A at a commissioning ceremony held April 14, 2019, at Fort Pickett’s 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute. The newly commissioned officers successfully completed the accelerated OCS program in eight weeks at Fort McClellan, Alabama.
Lt. Col. Robert L. Fitch, 3rd Battalion, 183rd RTI commander, administered the oath of office to the graduates, and Col. Todd Hubbard, 183rd RTI commander, introduced and welcomed the guest speaker, retired Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, the former adjutant general of Virginia.
Officer Candidate Andres J. Novoa received an Army Commendation Medal after being named distinguished honor graduate for his OCS class. Novoa achieved a 95% academic average, scored 300 on the Army Physical Fitness Test and was rated as one of the top candidates in his class by his peers on evaluations.
“We are fortunate this time to have the distinguished honor graduate from Alabama as the Virginia candidate,” said Capt. Delmarie A. Carson, 183rd RTI training officer. “Novoa is one of the Virginia candidates out of 105, he was top of his class, so that’s always a great distinction.”
“Be as physically prepared as you possibly can before you get to OCS and learn your roles from squad leader up and what each persons’ job is in the company,” Novoa said. “Always seek out advice not only your fellow officers, but also from your NCO’s.” Novoa has been in the Virginia Army National Guard since 2011.
During Long’s remarks, he reminded the newly commissioned officers about their roles as new leaders and to always treat people the way they would like to be treated.
“You’re going to be a leader to these young people and these great Americans are the brightest, best equipped and most well-trained Soldiers that the United States has ever put on the field. It’s the best military force America has ever had,“ said Long. “Leadership is a responsibility. It’s not power, fame or money, it’s a responsibility and it’s your chance to make a difference for good, as well as a chance to make things right.”
Officer Candidate Matthew J. Hovey presented Long with a Virginia state plaque commissioned by a local Petersburg artist, David Hayes.
“I would say that the challenges that I faced being an officer candidate with no prior experience, was competing with the prior experience Soldiers,” said Hovey. “I would set personal goals for myself and try to exceed those goals.”
Officer Candidate Matthew G. Richie said one of the biggest challenges he faced during OCS was being away from his family. His advice was for the candidates is to be mentally flexible and physically prepared. Richie had four years prior service in the U.S. Army.
The candidates spent three months at Fort Pickett preparing for the course before going to Fort McClellan, Alabama.
“While they are here, they get a thorough run through of the tasks they can expect in the program,” said Carson. “We focus on a lot of land navigation because that’s a big portion of the first phase, they also have to take the APFT each month and do a six-mile ruck march.”
Some of the requirements for OCS are passing the APFT, having a bachelor’s degree or at least 90 college credits, having an Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery GT score of 110 or above and being commissioned before your 42nd birthday.
“There is so much to say about the program, it’s very challenging and very demanding, but in the end it’s worth it,” said Carson. “You’re commissioned and you weren’t given it, you earned it. “
The graduating class of the Virginia National Guard’s Officer Candidate School Class 62A is as follows:
- 2nd Lt. Matthew J. Hovey is branching field artillery and will serve as a platoon leader with 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
- 2nd Lt. Andres J. Novoa is branching infantry and will serve as a platoon leader with Bravo Company 1st Battalion 116th Infantry Brigade.
- 2nd Lt. Matthew G. Richie is branching field artillery and will serve as a platoon leader with 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.