Regional Training Institute Graduates Warrant Officer Candidates

Camp Ripley, Minnesota, Oct 17 – 1st Battalion 175th Regiment Regional Training Institute held a graduation and appointment ceremony for the Minnesota Reserve Component Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) Class 21-001, “Lead Through Expertise” in the Education Center’s Auditorium at Camp Ripley today.

The Minnesota Army National Guard conducted its first officer candidate school in 1957.

“While a great deal has changed since 1957, one aspect remains unchanged,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Benjamin Labelle, WOCS course Manager and Instructor. “Our commitment to standards and excellence in producing the next generation of Minnesota Army National Guard leaders.”

The challenging eight-month-long course develops adaptive leaders in a demanding, high stress environment that requires both physical and mental stamina.

This year’s class began in April 2021. After the completion of the first phase, the candidates prepared to attend Phase 2 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana where they were joined by candidates from 31 other states and territories.

Throughout the eight-month period, they took four academic tests, performed a 10K foot march, completed the Leadership Reaction Course and a Land Navigation course.

“The Warrant Officer Candidate School adopted the motto of ‘Strength in Knowledge.’ Knowledge enables our success, helps us plan, strategize and adapt. You our new warrant officers, are the technical experts to bring that knowledge to our teams,” said Lt. Col. Kyle Lundequam 1st Brigade, 102nd Training Division Brigade S3 and guest speaker for the event. “You have a new title, rank and pay, but how will you act?”

During the ceremony, Warrant Officer Candidate (WOC) Thomas Wright received the Academic Excellence Award. WOC Clayton Anderson was awarded the Superior Physical Fitness award.

Additionally, the Leadership Award and the Command Chief Warrant Officer Award was given to WOC Anton Johnson.

After the presentation of awards was complete, each candidate received their diploma. In total, 12 candidates were honored.

The graduates were Clayton Anderson, Emily Bode, Anton Johnson, Scott Lundequam, Emily Malherek, Reed Pritchard, Mark Peloski, Jesse Richards, Kyle Spree, Robert Theuringer, Aarin Urevig, and Thomas Wright.

“The candidates have worked very hard to reach this moment, and the American people have put their faith and trust into these soon to be appointed Warrant Officers,” said Labelle. “The candidates are swearing or affirming their true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States.”

With that, Class 21-001, stood to repeat the Oath of Office lead by Lt. Col. Amber Manke, commander of the 1st Battalion, WOCS/OCS Candidate Schools.

Once the Oath of Office was completed, family members of the candidates were encouraged to pin the “Warrant Officer One” rank on their service member.

Following with tradition, the Leadership Award Recipient, Warrant Officer One Anton Johnson and 1st Battalion, 175th Regiment, Training Non-Commissioned Officer, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Andrle walked to the middle of the auditorium to salute, allowing Johnson to present the first silver one-dollar coin to Peterson, the first enlisted soldier to return his salute.

Photo/Sgt. Mahsima Alkamooneh

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