(FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas --) The Jimmy Brought Fitness Center was filled near to capacity with Soldiers, Family and friends Feb. 11 when A Company, 232nd Medical Battalion graduated 383 combat medics from the 68W, Health Care Specialist (Combat Medic) course.

Lt. Col. John Lamoureux, commander, 232nd Medical Battalion opened the ceremony recognizing Families and friends of the graduating Soldiers, "Most don't realize it but serving in the military is a Family affair," said Lamoureux. He then thanked the veterans in the audience. "More than 80 percent who serve come from a Family that has had someone else who has served in some form or fashion."

Addressing the Soldiers, Lamoureux said, "this course was very tough, both academically and environmentally, but what you may not realize is that in many ways this course was tough for a reason and it is not designed for everyone to get through. Only the best of the best are allowed and able to get through this course."

Lamoureux concluded "Be proud of what you have accomplished... you are now part of an elite club whose members are the world's finest "medics" and on behalf of the nation, I congratulate each one of you for earning this title and for the credit you bring upon the United States of America and the country of Yemen."

Maj. Gen. Russell Czerw, commander, Fort Sam Houston and U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School delivered the commencement address to the graduates. He manages over 40,000 personnel and 31,000 acres of military real estate on Fort Sam Houston.

"For 233 years, our armed forces have come together to fight for a common cause. Brave patriots come from all across America, from small towns and cities, and from various backgrounds - and they gather together to defend America, when our borders, our people and our way of life are threatened. They volunteered and answered our nation's Call to Duty," said Czerw.

Soldier Medics of graduating class number 17-08, you are now that patriot - you have made that commitment to honor our nation by giving of yourself so that others may receive your healing touch, that commitment to protect - that of which we hold so precious - our freedoms."

Addressing the Allgood award Czerw said, "Today is a very special day, not only do we honor 383 graduating Soldier Medics, but we pay tribute and honor to one, who was an incredibly gifted, extremely focused husband, father, physician, Soldier, and leader. And I am grateful to say - friend, Col. Brian D. Allgood."
"Col. Brian D. Allgood may be fallen, but he will never be forgotten for who he was and what he represented. In his memory, we have established the Colonel Brian D. Allgood award of excellence, an award that recognizes a leader who possesses integrity, commitment, one who is loyal and dedicated, one who epitomizes selfless service and who inspires others to lead. And I for one, having been a friend who had the privilege to receive that inspiration. For those who receive this distinguished award in the future, know that it is special, know that it is an extreme honor."

"The day after tomorrow, you give up the job of student and take on the mantle of warrior. I thank you for your service. I thank you for your dedication and I welcome you back. Congratulations. God bless you, and God bless this great nation we call the United States of America."

In a resounding voice, Czerw shouted "GATORS." And Class 17- 08 answered back, "Lead the Way." Czerw said, "Make your cadre proud because you are their legacy and you are their credentials."

The medical battalion also graduated one international student from Yemen. Two Soldiers were recognized for leadership awards, three received physical fitness awards and 18 received honor graduate recognition.
All the graduates were congratulated and the ceremony concluded as the new Soldier Medics marched from the ceremony, calling cadence on their way to new assignments, which will carry them to all parts of the world saving lives.

Col. Brian D. Allgood Award

The Army Medical Department Center and School established the Col. Brian D. Allgood 68W Distinguished Honor Graduate Award on behalf of Allgood, who commanded the 232nd Medical Battalion from June 4, 1999 to June 8, 2001. Under his superior leadership, more than 9,000 Soldiers, were trained and molded into combat medics. His legacy lives on in generations of combat medics who save lives everyday. The award is given in an effort to memorialize his honor, courage, professionalism, technical and tactical competency and values.

Army Reservist, Mark Pilar, 1984th DET 2, Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, was the first to receive the Col. Brian D. Allgood, 68W Distinguished Honor Graduate Award. "I feel a great sense of honor, I wasn't aware at first what the Allgood Award was, until I saw all the people coming out and going through the practice runs, how big of a deal this was," said Pilar.

Speaking about the award, Mrs. Allgood said, "It is a nice way to remember him. It would be nothing he would want, because he was very low key, but if it helps someone else to stay focused and have some sort of goal, you never know how the ripple effect, affects other peoples' lives.