ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill.The Rock Island Arsenal graduated another class in machinist apprentice program. The program celebrated its 100th year earlier this summer.

The program provides would-be machinists with 700 hours of classroom training and 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. Graduates support military readiness by manufacturing artillery, gun mounts, recoil mechanisms, small arms and other components.

Nine graduates received their certificates today, with nine receiving them in a ceremony held earlier this summer.

Col. James O. Fly Jr., the 46th commander of the Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center, told the graduates how important the work they do is to the Soldier in the field.

"Today, you are joining an organization that exists to sustain Soldiers readiness needs in peace, help to jump start mobilization of the industrial base in times of war, and to help keep our soldiers one step ahead of an ever evolving enemy threat capability in times of persistent conflict like we find ourselves in today," Fly said.

"I've only been in command for a little more than 30 days, but I am simply at awe when I see all the things this place can do," Fly explained. "What impresses me even more is the resolve of the people that work here. You all know we have an important mission that we can't fail in. You are making the difference that protects America's Sons and Daughters."

After completion of the program, many graduates find jobs at the RIA-JMTC while others venture into private industry.

"Many of our leaders at RIA-JMTC, have been graduates of the apprenticeship program," said Chairman of the Apprenticeship Committee Lon Lukavsky "We have also had graduates that have been successful in private industry or started their own business."

The Executive Vice President from the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, Paul Rumler gave the keynote address. He stressed the importance of the skill set the graduates bring to the Soldier in the field as well as to the community.

"The skills you have gained continue to be in high demand by area employers," said Rumler. "You are one of the community's greatest strengths and assets."

"Today's graduates have a critical role to play as part of this team," Rumler explained. "For what you do to supply the Soldier with what he or she needs to protect our country. "And for what you do to strengthen the foundation of our community."

The 100th year celebration held earlier this summer drew graduates from as far back as the 1940s. More than 1,200 have graduated from the apprenticeship program since its inception in 1910.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16