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By 1st Lt. Cody Stagner,
Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office
Senior leaders from the Kentucky National Guard were on hand to congratulate the latest Officer Candidate School graduates Oct. 17 at the Army Aviation Support Facility at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort.
Graduates of Officer Candidate School Class 62-20 included Larry Zuniga of Bowling Green, Dustin McKie-Miller of Lexington, and David Mutuse and Seth Weddle, both from Richmond, Ky.
Honored guests, Brig. Gen. Hal Lamberton, Kentucky adjutant general, Col. Frederick Bates, the 238th Regiment Training Institute commander, and Chaplain (Col.) Jay Padgett, the senior state chaplain, spoke words of encouragement during the ceremony.
“When you’re in a leadership role, you’re going to be confronted by issues, and you will want to put a positive spin on these challenges for you and your Soldiers,” said Lamberton, as he addressed the group. “This will present you with more problems. But that is the dynamic we deal with as leaders in any capacity.”
These four new lieutenants faced many challenges already as they overcame difficulties on the road to becoming commissioned officers. They pushed through the COVID-19 pandemic and instructors tested their ability to lead others in many trials within the school’s program.
In recognition of his exceptional effort to attain the highest score on the overall Army physical fitness test, Mutuse received the Physical Fitness Award.
For the highest average score on written exams, Weddle received the Academic Achievement Award.
They presented the Commandant’s Award to Zuniga for showing the greatest self-improvement throughout the course.
For his superior ability at leading others, they presented the Leadership Excellence Award to McKie-Miller during the ceremony.
Earlier that morning, candidates took their oath of office at Daniel Boone’s gravesite in Frankfort, overlooking the state capitol.
Bates, the commander over the training institute, gave credit to the non-commissioned officers they will work alongside in their new leadership roles.
“I want to challenge you, today, to listen to the non-commissioned officers you will have around you,” said Bates. “Even if you are prior-enlisted, they will have the experience and know your new job better than you as a new lieutenant. Listen to them. Pay attention to your family and friends. Tell them what’s going on in your career. Then they will know how to be a part of what you’re doing and also able to help with it.”
To conclude his statements, Bates welcomed the new officers to the Kentucky National Guard.
“Thank you for being here,” he said. “This is truly an honor and an exceptional event. I look forward to seeing you out on the ranges and during training and while deployed all around the world as our mission continues.”