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NEWS | April 15, 2023

Celebrating Excellence: Kentucky Army National Guard's Officer Candidate School Graduates Emerge as Leaders

By Lt. Col. Gus LaFontaine, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

The Kentucky Army National Guard celebrated the graduation of Officer Candidate School (OCS) Class 65-23 this weekend at the Capitol Rotunda Apr. 15, 2023. 

The ceremony honored the Soldiers who successfully completed the 12-month training program and have now been commissioned as new officers in the Kentucky Army National Guard.


During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Carla Raisler spoke, acknowledging the sacrifices made by the graduating officers, their families, and friends. She expressed gratitude for the unwavering support and trust that made the journey possible and highlighted the crucial role that these newly commissioned officers will play in the safety and security of the Commonwealth and the United States.

"I can't tell you this is the end of sacrifices, said Raisler. "There will be missed little league games, birthdays, and anniversaries; but I can tell you this Commonwealth and this country are better and more importantly safer for it."

Kentucky Adjutant General Hal Lamberton also addressed the graduates, emphasizing the importance of self-improvement in becoming an exceptional officer. 

"The one real difference between a mediocre officer and an exceptional officer is what you do with your free time," Lamberton said. 

He encouraged the new officers to continue on the path of progression through the Army's officer leadership courses. The OCS training program is designed to push candidates to their physical and mental limits. Over 12 months, candidates must pass eight exams, complete timed runs and foot marches with heavy loads, and participate in field training exercises and leadership evaluations. The program aims to produce officers with the necessary skills and characteristics to excel in their roles.

Newly minted officer, Daniel Meyer, who was recognized with the Leadership Award for superior leadership traits and abilities, shared his motivations for joining OCS and his vision for the future. 

"I was motivated to join OCS for two reasons," said Meyer. "The first is I wanted to be in a position that can motivate and develop soldiers, not only in their Army career but also in their civilian life. The second reason is family lineage, my grandfather and father were both officers in the Army. My training has taught me many things, but one of the main things it has taught me is leading by example. Being a second lieutenant will allow me to have closer relationships with Soldiers, especially junior enlisted who have just joined the Guard, so it will be critical for me to be the example and show them what right looks like."

Several awards were presented during the ceremony, including the Physical Fitness Award, which went to Officer Candidate Luke Ripple, who achieved the highest score on the final Army Combat Fitness Test. Officer Candidate Erik Thomas received the Academic Award for having the highest academic average in the class, while Officer Candidate Valeska Tovar earned the Commandant's Award for demonstrating the greatest self-improvement.

The Distinguished Honor Graduate, was presented to Officer Candidate Eric Thomas for his exceptional performance in leadership, academics, and physical fitness. As the Distinguished Honor Graduate of OCS Class 65-23, Officer Eric Thomas received the Erickson trophy, named in honor of Major. General Edgar C. Erickson, a former chief of the National Guard Bureau.

In closing, Lamberton reiterated his earlier advice to the newly commissioned officers, emphasizing the importance of using their free time for growth and development. 

With a blend of challenge and encouragement, he imparted his final challenge to the graduates: 

"How good do you want to be?"

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