Hometown Military News: Sept. 6, 2016

Illinois National Guard's Officer Candidate School
Newly commissioned second lieutenants cut a cake together shortly after graduating from the Illinois National Guard’s Officer Candidate School Aug. 28. From left Tom Phetchareune of Urbana, Marcus Dunn of Jerome, Jody Erickson of Springfield, Garret Reveal of Tolono, Jaclyn Musgrove of Auburn, and Timothy Sullivan of Glenarm. (U.S. Army photo by PFC Dylon Hopp, 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

Hometown Military News for Sept. 6, 2016:

Illinois Army National Guard welcomes new commissioned officers

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois National Guard’s 129th Regiment’s Regional Training Institute Officer Candidate School commissioned nine second lieutenants Sunday, Aug. 28.

“I am exceptionally proud,” said Maj. Douglas Coop, commander of Illinois’ OCS, and a Jacksonville resident. “We produce high-quality lieutenants out of this program. We need units across the state to send us their best enlisted so we can train them to be exceptional lieutenants.”

Class 60-15 is the 60th class to graduate from the 129’s officer candidate program, which transforms enlisted noncommissioned officers and qualified civilians into Army officers. The OCS program is academic focused and requires candidates to hold a four-year degree. Upon completion of the 18-month school, candidates receive their commissions and are assigned leadership positions in units across Illinois.

“We are ready to go on to the next challenge. I am very excited to see us graduate,” said newly-commissioned 2nd Lt. Jaclyn Musgrove, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 766th Brigade Engineering Battalion, and an Auburn resident. “One of the biggest challenges we encountered was trying to maintain motivation amongst our class. Personally, my biggest motivator is my father. We couldn’t have done this without friends and family, it means so much to have them here.”

Musgrove earned the Erickson Trophy, an award given to the honor graduate of each OCS class. The criteria included physical fitness, grades in coursework and leadership ability. Her advice for the next class was to “stay humbled and remember, it’s all a learning process designed to get you to that next level.”

Brig. Gen. Michael Zerbonia, Assistant Adjutant General-Army, commander of the Illinois Army National Guard and resident of Chatham spoke to the graduates about perseverance. All leaders will make mistakes, but it’s how they handle themselves after that determines a good leader, he said.

Zerbonia administered the Oath of Office and the Oath of Federal Recognition. The pinning ceremony followed, where the Soldier’s friends and family pinned the second lieutenant gold bar rank on their shoulders. Once pinned, each lieutenant rendered their first salute to an enlisted service member of their choosing. The Army Song and benediction closed out the graduation.

“This class is full of talented individuals who will one day serve as our replacements,” said Zerbonia. “They want to go out and lead Soldiers. They want to excel in the Guard. They want to be the best of the best.”

Also receiving a commission during the ceremony were 2nd Lt. Marcus Dunn of Jerome, assigned to the 709th Area Support Medical Company in Peoria; 2nd Lt. Jody Erickson of Springfield, assigned to Joint Force Headquarters in Springfield; 2nd Lt. Tom Phetchareune of Urbana, assigned to Company D, 766th Brigade Engineer Battalion in Bloomington; 2nd Lt. Megan Pool of Chicago, assigned to the 710th ASMC in North Riverside; 2nd Lt. Garret Reveal of Tolono, assigned to 631st Engineer Company in Sparta; 2nd Lt. Alexander Sepanski of Springfield, assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in Litchfield; 2nd Lt. Timothy Sullivan of Glenarm, assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment in Litchfield; and 2nd Lt. Johnny Vasquez of Loves Park, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 123rd Engineer Battalion in Milan.

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