HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command's commanding general spoke recently to a group of men and women who are serving their community and country in a different way than he does.

Lt. Gen. David L. Mann, USASMDC/ARSTRAT comming general, was the guest speaker at the Huntsville Police Academy's 53rd Session Basic Class graduation at Columbia High School June 20.

"To the newest members of the Huntsville Police Depart: congratulations, and well done!" Mann said. "Frankly, and I mean this very sincerely, I view police officers as heroes. And I mean that. I want to say thank you for what you do on behalf of me and my family and all the families of this great community.

"I think there are a lot of similarities between being a Soldier and serving as a police officer," Mann continued. "Especially when you consider the values we share. There's a strong correlation between our chosen professions."

Twenty-five men and women graduated to become Huntsville police officers. They are: Joseph Batten, Jonathan Boyd, Tony Bryant, Dustin Clark, Craig Delgado, Zane Dutton, Jeffery Franks, William Frost, Gerald Gambino, Thomas Gargulinski, Lee Glaser, Kylene Gross, Eric Kuhnkey, Aimee McAlister, Paul Nordan, April Payne, Allison Peterson, Brett Ramsey, Mercedes Rugart, Hudson Slater, Jason Toney, Matthew Troncone, James Umoeka III, Jason Vanderbrink, and Timothy Welch.

"Today each of you is going to take an oath to protect and defend this great community," Mann said. "That oath is to serve a greater purpose and to live up to your core values of professionalism and accountability.

"You should be proud of yourselves. Take pride in the fact that very few folks could have made it through the training that you went through," he said. "There's an old military expression -- many wish to be like you but few compete and far fewer succeed. On behalf of an old Soldier and a member of this community, thank you so very much."

The class' training lasted from Feb. 17 to June 20, and their class motto is "Never Settle; Strive for Perfection."