FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- While 87 Soldiers from the Warrant Officer Candidate School Class 17-06 were being recognized for becoming warrant officers during a graduation ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum March 2, a former Soldier was also being honored for his personal courage.
The 1st Warrant Officer Company Iron Warrant Award, which was awarded during the ceremony, will now be known as the W01 Anthony Radetic Iron Warrant Award in honor of a former warrant officer who was able to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, according to CW2 Mark Gonzalez, 1st WOC.
"The Iron Warrant Award is awarded to the most physically dexterous candidate through each warrant officer class," he said. "This particular award was the first award that we presented since officially naming it the W01 Anthony Radetic Iron Warrant Award."
Radetic served as a communications NCO before transitioning into Aviation and becoming a warrant officer, said Gonzalez. Unfortunately, he was injured in a motor vehicle accident more than six years ago, which left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Despite his injury, Radetic didn't allow his misfortune to keep him from living, and he began to train in various Paralympic-style sports, including skiing, swimming and cycling. His endeavors would eventually bring him to the 2016 Invictus games in Orlando, Florida, during which he competed in the swimming and cycling competitions.
It's the level of dedication and motivation that Radetic displayed in the face of overwhelming adversity that he was selected as the namesake for the award, said Gonzalez. Before a decision was made, there were about six different potential honorees that the unit researched and voted on.
"It is a wonderful feeling to be able to come full circle after my injury and be able to recognize the accomplishments of my fellow warrant officer," he said "The warrant officer community creates highly skilled and successful leaders, and I appreciate the opportunity to recognize the qualities in them that exemplify the best of our profession and the resilience of a Soldier."
After looking at each of the potential honoree's backgrounds, it was voted that Radetic was best to represent the award, and, after final approval from senior leaders, the name became official, said Gonzalez.
"Mr. Radetic's history in the military and his performance after his injury is what really helped us make the final decision to name the award after him," he said. "His resiliency really displayed what we want to encourage in the Iron Warrant Award."
During the graduation ceremony, Radetic was able to personally recognize and present the award to this year' recipient, W01 Nathan Jajo.
Jajo was named this class's Iron Warrant based on his physical performance throughout the course, including a 10K ruck march, which must be conducted with a 48-pound ruck sack, as well as his Army Physical Fitness Training performance.
That level of performance and resiliency required of the recipient of the award is part of what keeps Radetic motivated to not allow his injury to defeat him.
"In competitive sports there is an immediate recognition with each accomplishment," he said. "I think through competition I was looking for a way to validate my personal struggle with my disability.
"I would like each group of new warrant officers to know that we recognize what they are required to overcome," he continued. "I would hope that what other warrant officers would learn from my experience is that you have the ability to make the best of any circumstance. Life will set you back, but an Iron Warrant has the ability to see the opportunity for what it is and persevere. Not every situation can be overcome, but we can adapt ourselves to make the best of any situation."