COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Two 100th Missile Defense Brigade officers earned top honors at the Army Air Defense Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course during a graduation ceremony at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Dec. 4.
Representing the 100th Missile Defense Brigade headquarters in Colorado Springs, 2nd Lt. Ira Jinkins was selected as the Lt. Gen. Kassidy Honor Graduate, and from the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely, Alaska, 2nd Lt. Jose Montalvo was named the Col. Tedesco Leadership Award winner, both for Class 03-20 SHORAD Track Phase.
Both officers were commissioned through the National Guard’s Officer Candidate School program and each relied on his respective background and experience throughout the course.
“I think my experience in the military helped,” said Jinkins, who joined the Marine Corps in 1999 and has served in the Colorado Army National Guard since 2004. “Going through the Ground-based Midcourse Defense Fire Control Qualification Course was also helpful. There, I got something like a 95.78 percent and that is barely passing for GQC. That experience instilled a work and study ethic which helped at BOLC.
“That and the fact that I was older than most of the instructors and students,” he said with a laugh.
Jinkins was selected as the Honor Graduate for attaining the highest academic average above 90 percent and meeting additional criteria including passing the record Army Combat Fitness Test, meeting the Army height and weight standard, and qualifying with assigned weapon a first-time go.
He said his aim was not to become the Honor Graduate, but simply to do his best.
“I tried to instill the mentality in these younger officers to take it one day, one exam, one week at a time,” he said. “Like the old adage, eat the elephant one small bite at a time.”
According to the Fort Sill Fires Center of Excellence website, the Air Defense Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course lasts 18 weeks and three days. Included in the 697 hours of academics and training are individual and team assessments, as well as practical applications throughout.
Montalvo noted that most of his classmates in BOLC were newly commissioned Reserve Officer Training Corps and U.S. Military Academy college graduates with no prior military service. He said that he relished the opportunity to help them, drawing on his military background that began when he enlisted in the Puerto Rico Army National Guard in 2006 as a military police Soldier.
He has served in the 100th Missile Defense Brigade since 2014 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and Fort Greely as an Alaska Army National Guardsman. He was selected for the leadership award for displaying outstanding leadership skills, demonstrating core leader competencies and by instructor and peer nomination.
“One of my main reasons for becoming an officer was so that I could help Soldiers,” said Montalvo. “It felt great to be selected for this honor, but it felt even better seeing how happy my fellow lieutenants were for me.
“Many of them came up to congratulate me and stated that I had definitely earned this award and expressed their appreciation for my assistance,” he said. “Once they started understanding the amount of knowledge and experience that we had, they started leaning on us and asking us questions. We became mentors rather than just classmates.”
Jinkins and Montalvo will return to their home stations and ultimately serve on a missile defense crew charged with the strategic ballistic missile defense of the homeland – a mission many of their classmates did not know existed.
“I think they gained a lot of respect for the National Guard,” said Jinkins. “They loved hearing about our job and didn’t realize such an important mission was executed by National Guard Soldiers.”
Montalvo said he is excited to return home to Alaska after nearly five months away, and is most proud of his accomplishments for what it will mean to his family.
"The biggest reward comes from the opportunity that I get to demonstrate to my kids that Daddy does his best in everything and that there is no double standard in my expectations of them,” he said.