NEWS | Oct. 5, 2021

Virginia National Guard welcomes 17 new OCS graduates

By Staff Sgt. Lisa M. Sadler JFHQ Public Affairs

The Virginia Army National Guard celebrated the graduation of 17 officer candidates from Officer Candidate School Class 63 and 64B Sept. 19, 2021, at a ceremony held at the Virginia National Guard Sergeant Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.

"A lot of times it will be hard," said Lt. Col. Eric L. Quinn, commander of 3rd Battalion, 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute, which includes the Virginia National Guard's OCS. "I challenge you to take on your new assignments and do great things for the Virginia Guard. Always respect and appreciate your Soldiers and what they do for you. This is a tough business we are in, remember your actions make you who you are, not your rank, your actions."

Col. Robert L. Fitch, director of plans and policies for the Virginia National Guard, served as the guest speaker for the event, and stressed the Army Values to the new officers.

"You will be continually tested throughout your career," Fitch said. "Not just at any one particular point in your active learning, but you'll be continually tested on your Army Values and you must be an example of these values that form the Army ethic."

He told the candidates they must prepare themselves to continue their military mission by being properly equipped, trained and ready to engage.

"As officers, you must maintain the momentum of operations," he said. "You can only do this if you prepare yourself to continue improving in your field."

Following the speakers, Quinn administered the oath of office to the candidates and several candidates were recognized for their superior performance in the course.

Officer Candidate Frank D. Sturek, the distinguished honor graduate for Class 63 received the Erickson Trophy, and the Physical Fitness Award for having the highest fitness score in the class.

Officer Candidate Amber M. Brown received the James B. Moore III Award, named for the first commandant of Virginia's Officer Candidate School. This award recognizes the candidate who made the most progress during the course.

Officer Candidate Shea A. Felter received the Commandant's Award for Academic Excellence as the candidate with the highest academic average.

Officer Candidate Elizabeth A. Martin received the Capt. Harry Q. Rose Leadership Excellence Award for having the highest average on leadership evaluations.

The graduating class voted on the OCS staff member who had the most significant impact on their class and awarded Cpt. Joshua Hillsman the Maj. Tom Bell Award. Hillsman also received an Army Commendation Medal for his dedication to the class.

Following the recognition of the course's top performers, candidates received their diplomas, and were pinned with their new rank by family members and friends.

Lastly, retired Col. Ray C. Goodwin, a graduate of OCS Class 4  retired Lt. Col. Bill Shrieves, a graduate of OCS Class 10  and retired Maj. Vernon T. Limerick, a graduate of OCS Class 11, presented the OCS guidon from Class 11 to Col. Charles B. Martin, commander of the 183rd RTI.

"All of us were commissioned here at OCS and have had the opportunity to serve in the Virginia National Guard for many years," Limerick said. "We served as tactical officers and a variety of other capacities and we're committed to the program. I want to congratulate each and every one of you and wish you all the best."

The Troutville-based 29th Infantry Division Band provided ceremonial music for the ceremony.

The graduating class of the Virginia National Guard’s Officer Candidate School Class 63 is as follows:

  • 2nd Lt. Amber Brown, originally from Ohio and now residing in Washington, D.C., is a graduate of the University of Virginia's College at Wise and will branch transportation. She will be assigned to the Danville-based Alpha Company 429th Brigade Support Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
  • 2nd Lt. Erin Cangiano works as a detective for the Norfolk Police Department in Norfolk, Virginia, and is branching military intelligence. She will be assigned to the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
  • 2nd Lt. Hannah N. Christman, from Front Royal, Virginia, is a graduate of George Mason University and is branching engineer. She will be assigned to the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group.
  • 2nd Lt. Tyler J. Eschner, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, is a graduate of Old Dominion University and is branching field artillery. He will be assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. 
  • 2nd Lt. Shea A. Felter, originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, and has called Virginia home since 2013. He is a graduate of Indiana University, currently works for the Department of Defense and is branching into the signal corps. He will be assigned to the  Fairfax-based 124th Cyber Protection Battalion, 144rd Cyber Warfare Company, 91st Cyber Brigade.
  • 2nd Lt. Curtis L. Gardner, originally from New York, New York, currently lives in Richmond, Virginia. He started his military career in 2002 as a 92A Automated Logistical Specialist. He has deployed several times, is branching engineer and will be assigned to the  Bowling Green-based Bravo Company,  229th Brigade Engineer Battalion,  116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.  
  • Officer Candidate Elizabeth A. Martin, from Martinsville, Virginia, is deferring her commission to Feb. 2022. She currently works at Fort Pickett as a supply sergeant, and has served in the National Guard since 2009. 
  • 2nd Lt. Uyen K. Nguyen, born in Saigon, Vietnam, currently resides in Roanoke, Virginia. She works as a senior configuration analyst, speaks fluent Vietnamese and English, and is branching into the chemical corps and will be assigned to the Portsmouth-based 2nd Squadron, 183rd Cavalry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.  
  • 2nd Lt. Frank D. Sturek, from Fairfax, Virginia, is a graduate of George Mason University and comes from a military family. He is branching into the infantry and will be assigned to the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.  

The graduating class of the Virginia National Guard Officer Candidate School Class 64B is as follows:  

  • Officer Candidate Melvin E. Carter, from Hume, Virginia, is deferring his commission. He currently works for the U.S. Secret Service.
  • Officer Candidate Matthew Choi, from Fort Lee, Virginia, is deferring his commission.
  • 2nd Lt. Keih P. Craft, originally from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is branching ordnance and will be assigned to the  Blackstone-based 3647th Maintenance Company,  529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 329th Regional Support Group. 
  • 2nd Lt. Evan A Grizzard, from Chantilly, Virginia, is branching infantry and will be assigned to the Leesburg-based Charlie Company,  3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.  
  • 2nd Lt. Eric A Harp, from Yorktown, Virginia, is branching field artillery and will be assigned to the Norfolk-based 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.  
  • 2nd Lt. Joshua A. Jeffcoat, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, is branching aviation and will be assigned to the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. 
  • Officer Candidate Pakapri Sesay, originally from Sierra Leone, currently works for the Pentagon Force Protection Agency is deferring his commission. 
  • 2nd Lt. Dynolene A. Walton, originally from Page, Arizona, is branching chemical and will be assigned to the Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.