By Sgt. Tiffany EvansJanuary 27, 2010
Fort Drum community members gathered Jan. 20 to honor graduates of the Warrior Leader Course, which teaches troops the skills required to lead, train, fight and accomplish the mission as noncommissioned officers.
Guest speaker for the ceremony was Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen J. Travers, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment command sergeant major.
During the ceremony, Travers spoke about the importance of WLC for junior noncommissioned officers.
"We are an Army at war," Travers said. "With today's Army focused on the tenet that everyone's a warrior first, the Warrior Leader Course, or WLC is a young sergeant's, corporal's or specialist's first opportunity for institutional combat leadership training.
"In a war without a 'front,' this particular leader training is well worth it. It ensures junior NCOs can all perform as combat leaders - sergeants in charge of Soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere our country demands we go to defend our Constitution and our way of life, ... faced with real life-and-death missions. Whether they're hunting insurgents or conducting combat logistics patrols while providing their own security, these NCOs are ready to perform their wartime missions."
He told the audience that the resting place of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, a founding father of the Army discipline program, is less than 60 miles south of Fort Drum.
"There's not a single Soldier out there who hasn't heard of von Steuben's 'Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States,' also known as the Bluebook, and what it meant to the fledgling Continental Army," Travers said.
It was von Steuben who introduced and perfected drill to Washington's hungry, cold and war-weary Army at Valley Forge in the winter of 1778. In the Bluebook, von Steuben also established the duties and responsibilities of the Army's leaders.
"Back then, the sergeants and corporals were hand-picked for their leadership abilities and commitment to the unit's mission ... not so far removed from the process we use today. Good, experienced Soldiers become sergeants ... and they get put in charge of other Soldiers. And remember, the example you set every day determines your Soldiers' conduct, discipline and commitment to those Army values."
While continuing to share the advice of von Steuben, Travers talked about how the Bluebook says to inspect Soldiers, making sure they have the proper equipment and that a sergeant needs to "know" their Soldiers.
"Sergeants, make sure you understand the capabilities of your Soldiers and know that leadership is an art," Travers said. "A true artist understands that each Soldier is unique ... comes with his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and deserves that sacred leadership only you can provide.
Finally, Travers encouraged the graduates and audience to research the Bluebook themselves, and he shared what he says is the bottom line and the perspective new graduates should have.
"Today you are now 'they, them, the Army.' It was 'they' who sent you to this school. It was 'they' who came up with the packing list to begin with. In case you haven't figured it out, it is 'they' who make things happen," Travers said. "'They' are the ones who enforce standards, account for 'their' Soldiers, and most importantly take responsibility for 'their' actions.
"Hopefully you all understand that Soldiers see you in a different light now that you're a leader, and it's your charge to accept that huge burden. It's you they'll remember years from now as they reflect back on their service. You, the NCO, are 'they' to the Soldiers. And they deserve outstanding leadership. Provide it for them."
After sharing his remarks, Travers helped to recognize the graduates.
Spc. Scott Deming, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, was named Distinguished Honor Graduate for earning the highest academic average.
The John D. Magrath Leadership Award went to Sgt. Viktor Halatchenko, Company B, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment.
The commandant's inspection winner was Sgt. Jessica Gallo, 277th Aviation Support Battalion. Instructor of the cycle was Staff Sgt. Przemyslaw Kwiecinski.
The following Soldiers were named to the Commandant's List: Sgt. Leslie Byerson, Command Group, 10th Mountain Division; Sgt. Nathan Cuza, 6-6 Cavalry; Sgt. Aaron Fast, 10th Mountain Division Band; Sgt. Jesse Horn, 277th ASB; Sgt. Laura Hier, 1st Support Battalion, 174th Infantry Regiment; Sgt. Charles Jetter, 277th ASB; Sgt. Brian Patterson, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade; Sgt. Kimberly Marmolejos, 514th Maintenance Company; Sgt. Denise Padgett, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion; Sgt. Andrew Pfrank, 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment; Sgt. Alexander Potgeter, 277th ASB; Spc. Larry Dickerson, 6-6 Cavalry; Spc. Anthony Fischetto, 10th Aviation Brigade; Spc. Joseph Hinojosa, 1st BSTB; Spc. Stephen Mclain, 1st Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment; Spc. Samuel Thornberry, 1-87 Infantry; Spc. Thinh Tran, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion; and Spc. Janelle Williams, 277th ASB.
Other WLC graduates are as follows: Sgt. Ian Baete, Sgt. Christopher Baneky, Sgt. Robert Bobo, Sgt. Graham Brooks, Sgt. William Bueker, Sgt. Garry Cadet, Sgt. Gonsalo Campos, Sgt. Matthew Cooke, Sgt. Michael Davis, Sgt. Amanda Druckenmiller, Sgt. Charles Easto, Sgt. Troy Franklin, Sgt. Joshua Frasher, Sgt. William Hart, Sgt. Tyler Hayes, Sgt. Michael Hedgeman, Sgt. Samuel Kirby, Sgt. Gene Mangune, Sgt. Robert Messer, Sgt. Jonathan Miles, Sgt. Timothy Moore, Sgt. Salvatore Ottaviano, Sgt. George Parker, Sgt. Gena Sabido, Sgt. Colby Scott, Sgt. Carlos Vera, Sgt. Weston Williams and Sgt. Peng Zhou.
Also, Cpl. Benjamin Betz, Spc. Akil Alim, Spc. Terry Allen, Spc. Colby Anderson, Spc. Todd Baker, Spc. Dallas Barnett, Spc. Justin Bower, Spc. Nathaniel Briscoe, Spc. Kevin Caliva, Spc. George Chavez, Spc. Adam Clary, Spc. Genival DaSilva, Spc. Thomas Dennehy, Spc. Richard Derouin, Spc. Daniel Dobson, Spc. Christopher Dolan, Spc. Kam Gerohimos, Spc. Vassilios Gerohimos, Spc. Bernabe Gonzalez Colon, Spc. Phillip Hickman, Spc. Willis Holley, Spc. Joseph Hulbert, Spc. Brian Johnson and Spc. Paul Kopka.
Also, Spc. Nicholas Loving, Spc. Robert Lovesee, Spc. Haywood Manciel, Spc. Robert Mckoy, Spc. Justin Monson, Spc. Thomas Morris, Spc. Jonathan Moss, Spc. Owen Ochs, Spc. Charles Odle, Spc. Ngoc Pham, Spc. Valerie Popek, Spc. Joseph Prestwood, Spc. Nicholas Rivers, Spc. Tyler Schmidt, Spc. Dunne Seain, Spc. Ian Sprigg, Spc. Adam Starkey, Spc. Nicholas Vanzant, Spc. Dranell Williams, Spc. John Williams and Spc. Justin Woodard.