RICHMOND, Va. –
Chief Warrant Officer 5 John D. Calley took responsibility as the Virginia Army National Guard’s Command Chief Warrant Officer from Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joseph W. Puckett Aug. 5, 2022, at the Virginia National Guard Sergeant Bob Slaughter Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia.
Brig. Gen. K. Weedon Gallagher, the VNG Land Component Commander, presided over the change of responsibility ceremony and the officer saber exchange signifying the transfer of responsibility from Puckett to Calley. Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Smith Jr., the VaARNG State Command Sergeant Major, served as the keeper of the saber during the ceremony.
Gallagher noted while the warrant officer corps has been around for more than 125 years, it wasn’t until the 1990s the Army made the positions of command chief warrant officers official.
“I am sure they were doing it informally, but I am glad the Army got on board and figured out how to make it official and recognize the leadership expertise we have available in our CW5s,” Gallagher said.
He commended Puckett on his years of service, and made a particular observation about how he genuinely liked people.
“He always looked forward to engaging with Soldiers,” Gallagher said. “Of all the attributes Joe brings to the fight, and there are many, the fact he is so approachable and accountable to individual Soldiers in our formations was his biggest attribute. It is the one that I found most impactful, and I am the most grateful for that.”
Gallagher said he felt that Puckett and Calley were from a “similar bolt of cloth” having spent their careers in aviation, and he was impressed by how Calley jumped in right away to visit troops both in Virginia and overseas as soon as he could.
Puckett retired with more than 5,200 total flight hours including more than 300 hours of imminent danger and combat time, and photos from his final Black Hawk flight are on Flickr at https://ngpa.us/20820
Puckett emphasized the importance of leaders leaning on their warrant officers for their technical expertise, and he encouraged warrant officers to pursue their command teams to stay engaged and offer advice and insights. He also stressed the importance of mentorship, not just among the warrant officers, but also between the senior warrant officers and senior enlisted leaders.
“We are all one team, one family, and regardless of your rank, being a Soldier comes first,” Puckett said.
He said Calley was chosen for the position because of who he is as a person as well as his career as a Soldier.
“He brings a lot to the table, and he is going to do a lot of great things for Virginia,” Puckett said.
Calley acknowledged that Puckett had been his mentor for more than 30 years of his military career, and he was honored to be following him in the position.
“I am honored and humbled to be selected for this position,” Calley said. “Following Joe, he has really set me up for success. I will try and be the best command chief that I can for the team, and I am excited to get going.”
Calley enlisted in the U.S. Army Sept. 3, 1985. He attended Basic Training, Infantry Advanced Individual Training and Airborne qualification at Fort Benning, Georgia. His initial assignment was with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In 1989, he joined the Virginia Army National Guard and was assigned as an infantry squad leader.
In 1991, Calley attended Warrant Officer Candidate School followed by Initial Entry Rotary Wing Flight Training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Upon completion of training, he was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation (Assault) in Sandston, Virginia, where he served as UH-1 and UH-60 Pilot, aviation safety officer and instructor pilot. In 2013, he transferred to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 151st Security and Support Regiment to serve as UH-72 instructor pilot and aviation safety officer.
Prior to his selection as the command chief warrant officer he served as the state aviation safety officer at Joint Force Headquarters - Virginia.
Calley’s deployment history includes support of SFOR-10 Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovinian 2001-2002, Operation Iraqi Freedom 2005-2007, Operation New Dawn in Iraq 2011, Operation’s Riverwatch and Guardian Eye on the Southwest Border in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Calley’s military and civilian education include Airborne School, Ranger School, Air Assault School, Jungle Warfare School, Aviation Safety Officer Course, UH-60 Qualification Course, UH-60 Instructor Pilot Course, High Altitude/Power Management Course, UH-72 Pilot Qualification Course, UH-72 Instructor Qualification, and the Warrant Officer Senior Staff Course. He has accumulated more than 4,700 accident-free flying hours. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Old Dominion University in Business Administration.
Calley’s awards include Meritorious Service Medal with an oak leaf clusters, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, NATO Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Expert Infantry Badge, Master Aviator Badge, Ranger Tab, Airborne Badge and Air Assault Badge.
Puckett served on active duty as an AH-1F Cobra helicopter crew chief in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky from 1984 to 1987, then joined the Virginia National Guard and served as an infantry team leader from 1987 to 1989. He completed the Warrant Officer Candidate Course in 1989 and the initial entry rotary wing course at Fort Rucker in 1990.
After initially serving as a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, he went on to serve as an aviation safety officer, UH-60 instructor pilot, aviation standardization pilot and a UH-60 platoon leader. He also cross trained and became certified to fly the UH-72 helicopter and served as a UH-72 platoon leader and standardization pilot. He served as an aviation standardization pilot for the Sandston-base 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment from 2013 to 2015 before becoming the state aviation standardization officer in 2015.
His previous deployments include humanitarian support missions to Bolivia in 1999 and Guatemala in 2014, Southwest Border Support in 2012, SFOR-10 in Bosnia-Herzgovania from 2001 to 2002 and Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn in 2011.
Puckett has more than 5,200 total flight hours including more than 300 hours over imminent danger and combat time. He assisted in the development of the Army training program for the UH-72A Lakota aviator, crew member, and maintainer programs from 2005 to 2010.
His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Aircraft Crewman Badge, the Master Army Aviator Badge and the Air Assault Badge. He completed a BS in aeronautics from Liberty University in December 2018.