FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s Warrant Officer Candidate School welcomed a new commander and recognized the latest graduates of the program in back-to-back ceremonies held May 4, 2019, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. In the first ceremony, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joshua Martin took command of the Virginia National Guard’s WOCS from Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wayne Sexton. Martin is the first commander to also be a graduate of Virginia’s WOCS program.
“You’re looking at a guy who was an E-5 when I was approved to go to WOCS,” Martin said. “I put my packet in the first time and it got denied. It doesn’t always work out the first time, but I persisted and I completed what was asked of me and 10 years later, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Lt. Col. Rob Fitch, commander of 3rd Battalion, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute which includes the WOCS, presided over the ceremony. He thanked Sexton for his years of leadership and commitment to the program and noted the many successes of Virginia’s WOCS graduates during his time as commander. He was presented with a Meritorious Service Medal for his time commanding the WOCS.
“It’s been a pleasure to serve as the commander,” Sexton said. “To everyone that’s here, thank you for your support, for having the confidence to put me in a leadership role to develop future warrant officers.”
During his remarks, Fitch noted the years of involvement that many graduates of the program dedicate to the WOCS, including the new commander.
“Mr. Martin has been doing this for nine years,” Fitch said. “It’s well-deserved to be appointed the next commander of the unit and I have every bit of faith and trust that you’re going to carry this forward and continue the beacon of success that the warrant officer program has developed over its many years.”
Following the change of command, the Virginia National Guard’s newest warrant officers filed into the room for a ceremony to recognize their successful completion of WOCS.
You’re what make it all worthwhile, said CW5 Chris Johnson. You are the new wave, the new Army.
For the new warrant officers, the process began months or even years before with Pre-WOCS, a three-day weekend focused on showing potential warrant officers what WOCS is like. Pre-WOCS is a requirement for all Soldiers interested in attending WOCS. After Pre-WOCS, Soldiers start WOCS and become warrant officer candidates, first they completed Phase I, the distance learning phase of the program. Then, they trained as a team at the 183rd RTI for six months of weekends before heading to Fort McClellan, Alabama, for the third and finial phase of the program.
“Our commanders, chain of command, the NCO corps, all of those guys count on us to be the technical and tactical experts in our field,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joseph Puckett, Command Chief Warrant Officer for the Virginia National Guard. “I challenge you, in the days, weeks, month and years until you’re stranding up here as a CW5 30-some years from now, to think about your influences and how that applies to you.”
At the ceremony, the 10 new warrants first took their oath of office and were then recognized on stage with a certificate marking their accomplishment. Several of the new warrant officers were recognized for their success at WOCS:
- Warrant Officer 1 Joshua Bruce received an Army Achievement Medal for being the Leadership Award recipient at Phase III of WOCS
- Warrant Officer 1 John Hartley and Warrant Officer 1 Steven Bussey both received an Army Achievement Medal for making the Commandant’s List at Phase III of WOCS
With WOCS behind them, the warrant officers will head to additional training in their individual career fields.