CAMP SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA. –
On 15 AUG 2105, the California Military Department (Army/Air National Guard and the State Military Reserve) received newly promoted officers in a ceremony held at the Perlee Theatre on Camp San Luis Obispo.
The Officer Candidate School Class 57 participants in the ceremony included twelve traditional course (Camp San Luis Obispo, CA) and ten accelerated course (Fort Meade, S.D.) graduates.
At the same time, eleven officer candidates, five warrant officer candidates and one Air officer, in the State Military Reserves, took their first steps as commissioned officers during their graduation from the 223d Reg. Regional Training Institute (RTI) Officer Candidate School.
The increasing heat, moderate winds, rising voices of children and adult conversations met the candidates as they lined two abreast, facing the way into the theatre. Every candidate dressed in their dark blue Army Service Uniform or Air uniform, wearing their medals, ribbons and insignia.
Once entering the theatre, an Army band played pre-ceremony music, marches and other selections. Behind the march a bagpiper played his pipes.
Following honors to the nation, an invocation and opening remarks by Lt. Col. Daniel T. Markert, Commander, 2d Bn, 223d Reg. RTI, the audience supplied a very loud greeting to Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret) William “Bud” McLeroy, the keynote speaker, completing six years in the U.S. Marine Corps and 27 years in the U.S. Army Reserves.
McLeroy had a unique qualification as guest speaker. He had lost a leg in a 1993 auto racing accident in Plaster City, CA; yet, he remained in his position as a firefighter and as an Army Reservist. He successfully operated as the first person with a prosthesis, in either capacity. McLeroy also did a tour during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Asked to speak at the ceremony, McLeroy laughing replied, “I’m going to take my leg off and throw it at them!”. After a raucous cascade of laughter, he continued in a more serious tone. “In my mind, mission is number one.”
In addressing the new graduates, McLeroy told them that “the best officer I ever had was a 2nd Lt. You lead by example.”
Maj. Gen. Lawrence A. Haskins, Commander, CA ARNG presented awards to six graduates in the OCS Class 57: 2nd Lt. Sean O’Neill received the General Albert L. Lemen Annual Award as the top, overall graduate; The Association of the United States Army Leadership Award, The Erickson Trophy Distinguished Honor Graduate and The National Guard Association of California Award went to 2nd Lt. Christopher McMahon; The Erickson Trophy Honor Graduates went to 2nd Lt. Iveth Watts (2nd Honor) and 2nd Lt. Marquez Perez (3rd Honor); The General Carl H. Aulick Annual Award (Boot Award) went to 2nd Lt. Marta Petrenko; and, the California Military Academy Alumni Association Physical Fitness Award went to 2nd Lt. Zachary Toss.
Maj. Gen. (CA) Timothy E. Albertson, Commander CSMR, presented awards to four graduates in the OCS Class 57: 2nd Lt. Rick C. Garcia qualified as the honor graduate for the CSMR. Other awards published as follows: the Leadership Award went to 2nd Lt. Michael S. Engler; the Academic Award went to Warrant Officer 1 Joshua M. Taylor-Zollo; and, the Commandant’s Award went to 2nd Lt. Michael T. McIver.
In the business of building competencies, the 223d Reg. Cmd. moved forward in focusing on the how officers need to make right and moral choices, placing service before self. This form of influence makes a difference in the state’s military department and in its military units. “It never gets easier,” stated Markert, “to serve or lead for others who can’t or won’t.”