West Point grad comes home to Fort Leonard Wood for commissioning ceremony
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Steven Berrios’ commissioning ceremony June 16 was a low-key affair for family and friends at the Military Police Museum Regimental Room. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point last month, Berrios wanted to provide an opportunity for his loved ones to share in such a big moment in his life — he also wanted to make sure his Waynesville High School Junior ROTC mentors received the credit they deserve.
“I just wanted to personally thank those who got me to West Point — they shaped me to become the leader I am and will be,” Berrios said, after he and retired Col. Charles Williams, senior instructor for Waynesville’s JROTC program, recited the Commissioned Officer Oath. Williams and retired MP Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. James Barrett each wrote letters of recommendation to West Point on Berrios’ behalf.
The Berrios family arrived at Fort Leonard Wood from an overseas assignment in 2004, when Steven was 5 years old — Steven’s father was a communications specialist in the Air Force, and was picked to be an information assurance manager here.
“I was born in Rota, Spain, but I basically grew up at Fort Leonard Wood,” he said, adding that being here helped shape his decision to join the Army. “Just seeing Army life and how much people care about you — it felt like everyone wanted me to succeed.”
Williams said he remembers Steven as “probably one of the most squared-away kids we had” in the JROTC program at the time.
“When he was on the drill team — normally they’re graded by drill sergeants — and when he would walk on the floor, the drill sergeants would be impressed by him,” Williams said. “That is unusual, because kids are usually intimidated by drill sergeants just by the look. All the kids we have are good, but he was kind of an unusual one. He just looked good in uniform; he was very professional. He always led by example — he was pretty amazing. His brother is pretty amazing, too.”
Steven’s brother, Shawn, narrated the commissioning ceremony, and leaves for the U.S. Naval Academy in the fall. They each spent all four of their high school years in JROTC.
Williams, a former garrison commander here, said Steven is only one of a few of his JROTC students he’s commissioned over the years.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s interesting watching them grow up, but this is kind of a big deal — I still remember who commissioned me.”
Berrios reports to his first active-duty assignment in July, where he will be a rotary wing aviator at Fort Rucker, Alabama. He said he chose the Army — in addition to his father, his oldest brother, Sergio, is an Air Force veteran — because of its “people-centric” nature.
“That’s why I chose the Army over the Air Force, where the focus is the planes, the jets; the Navy is the ships. The Army is people focused,” he said.