Huntsville, Ala. -- For 100 years, warrant officers have been the technical foundation on which the Army stands.

Highlighting that century of expertise, the Army's senior logistician, Gen. Gus Perna, commander of the Army Materiel Command, spoke at the Warrant Officers Association-Redstone Arsenal Chapter Centennial Dinner, Friday at the Von Braun Center.

"My own path through the commissioned ranks, and those of so many other general officers, was shaped tremendously by the coaching, mentorship and training provided by warrant officers," he said. "The reason I know supply and maintenance is because warrant officers were hard on me. They showed me what right looked like and didn't accept less."

Perna shared the story of Huntsville native John Stensby, a warrant officer and World War II Prisoner of War. The Japanese forced Stensby to work as a master welder in their shipyards, and Stensby used his technical knowledge to sabotage their plan.

"Chief Stensby manipulated the welding process and when the Japanese Navy launched their brand new destroyer, it promptly sank to the bottom of the harbor," Perna said. "It was the Soldier inside of Chief Stensby that kept him alive in those camps. But it was the technical expert inside of Chief Stensby that kept him very much in the fight."

The role of the warrant officer has changed in recent years, but the Army needs the cohort to grow its ownership as the Army's technical experts, Perna said.

"We need you to be the technical experts of our Army. We need you to understand our equipment. We need you to train our forces and hold us accountable," he said. "I believe our Army will not be ready without the warrant officer cohort."

The dinner marked the Warrant Officers Association-Redstone Arsenal Chapter's 25th anniversary, elevating the group to a Silver Chapter.

Perna presented Chief Warrant Officer 5 Alan Rizucka and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joe Shiver the National Warrant Officer Association's highest award, the gold-level Order of the Rising Eagle. Eight bronze awards were also presented by the chapter: Chief Warrant Officer 5 Keith Langewisch, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Leonard Crain, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Eduardo Hope, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ed Banville, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Rob Seybold, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Anwarul "Andy" Haq, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Clarissa Lewis, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tracey Duncan and Master Sgt. William Moran, the first noncommissioned officer to receive the award.