RICHMOND, Va. –
Officer candidates, graduates and cadre of the Virginia Army National Guard Officer Candidate School celebrated its 58th birthday with a ceremony April 19, 2016, at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College’s Downtown Campus in Richmond, Virginia. Officer candidates in Class 58, who are scheduled to graduate in August 2016, organized the ceremony, which included the family of Capt. Harry Q. Rose, a graduate of Class VIII who was killed in Vietnam in 1969 and remains the only Virginia OCS graduate to have been killed in action.
“Class 58 has started another great tradition to add to the OCS history books,” said Maj. Sheryl Lloyd, commander of the Virginia Army National Guard Officer Candidate School, which is located at Fort Pickett. “These officer candidates have built a positive image of the type of leaders we are developing at the Officer Candidate School at Fort Pickett with the implementation of the first OCS birthday celebration after 58 classes of leaders have been developed.”
The goal of the event was to boost the esprit de corps and the sense of pride in the school, as well as encourage officer candidates to explore the rich history of the program, according Officer Candidate Mohammed Harba, the officer candidate in charge of the event.
“I also hoped to exhibit to the previous graduates that our class is proud of their accomplishments and seeks to emulate and honor them,” he said.
“What made it extra special was having the Rose family and OCS alumni come by and celebrate with us at the location where everything got started,” Lloyd said. “I was honored to be a part of history.”
Rose was killed in action Feb. 21, 1969, while serving as a rotary wing aviation unit commander. Today the Harry Q. Rose Award is given to one member of each Virginia Guard OCS class who has distinguished him or herself in leadership throughout the duration of the program. Rose’s two sisters, brother in law and nephews attended the ceremony and were recognized by the candidates.
“Getting to meet them in person to express our respect for Capt. Rose’s service and sacrifice was an honor beyond measure,” Harba said. “I believe that their presence was the highlight of the event and our most important accomplishment that day, considering the fact that this year is the 50th anniversary of his Virginia OCS graduation.
“Having the opportunity to interact with Capt. Rose’s family allows us to experience a true connection to an icon of the Virginia OCS program and our school’s history, and takes us to a new level of motivation that goes beyond the photograph of him that graces our classroom wall,” he added.
JSRCC is the original site of the Richmond Howitzers Armory, where the Virginia OCS first mustered April 19, 1958, and graduated May 23, 1959.
“I couldn’t locate the Howitzers Armory in Richmond, so I checked the Library of Virginia and discovered that the armory was demolished,” Harba said. He also discovered that JSRCC sits on the site where the armory once stood.
“Amazingly, remnants of the armory’s old Victorian brick walls can still be seen outside the college building,” Harba added.
During the ceremony, leadership of JSRCC unveiled a plaque which will be mounted on campus noting its status as the birthplace of the Virginia Guard OCS.
“I’m very proud of how everything turned out,” Lloyd said. “Great planning and research went into making the event a great success. It is all a tribute to the great work done at the OCS schoolhouse yesterday, today and forever.”