FORT DRUM, N.Y. - Members of the Fort Drum community gathered April 28 to honor graduates of the Warrior Leader Course, which is designed to give Soldiers the skills they need to effectively train and lead troops as noncommissioned officers.
Guest speaker for the ceremony was Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew J. Spano, command sergeant major of 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
Spano began the ceremony by talking about the significance of the NCO Creed. "In my time serving as a Soldier, I have had a few creeds to memorize: the Ranger Creed, the Soldier's Creed, and the NCO Creed. It was real easy to memorize the Ranger Creed, because ... at the 75th Ranger Regiment, they used food as an incentive to memorize it. The Soldier's Creed and the NCO Creed were different, because there is a reason that we should memorize it. There is a meaning and a reason we have these creeds."
During the ceremony, Spano spoke about the origins of the American NCO.
"Our corps dates back to our beginnings, to the start of our Army in June 1775. General Washington did not want to have a corps of NCOs like the French or the British. He wanted a corps that was truly American. That corps of NCOs was forged in the harsh winter at Valley Forge, when General Baron Von Steuben outlined and standardized the duties and responsibilities of the NCO in his regulations for the order and discipline of the troops of the United States.
"Sergeants and corporals were selected by their commanders based (on) their performance, and it was a reward to be a corporal or a sergeant."
Spano spoke about the changes the American NCO has gone through over the years.
"There was a time in our Army when the NCO was ... the guy (who) was assigned the job to stand behind the formation to make sure Soldiers did not run from the sound of the guns. Now, we lead Soldiers into battle. We plan missions; we prepare our Soldiers; we load them up; and from the front of the formation, we are leading the men and women of our Army, to face the enemies of our great nation."
In conclusion, Spano told the graduates he is confident in their abilities as NCOs.
"I am very confident that our Army is in great shape," he said. "When the time comes, and the torch is to be passed on, I am confident that you all will be leading it into the future."
After concluding his remarks, Spano helped to recognize the graduates.
Sgt. Janet Larose, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, was named Distinguished Honor Graduate for maintaining the highest grade point average while in the course.
The John D. Magrath Leadership Award went to Staff Sgt. Juan J. Garcia Jr., B Company, 3rd BSTB, 3rd BCT.
The Iron Soldier Award, given to the Soldier with the highest physical training score, was presented to Sgt. James R. Ramirez, HHC, 3rd BSTB, 3rd BCT.
The Commandant's Inspection winner was Sgt. Joseph R. Ricker, A Company, 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd BCT.
Instructor of the cycle was Staff Sgt. Jose A. Ramirez-Nieves.
The following Soldiers were named to the Commandant's List: Sgt. Rene J. Espinoza-Reyes, A Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT; Sgt. Donald W. Seibert III, A Battery, 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd BCT; Spc. Ana N. Leonardo-Gracia, HHC, 10th Sustainment Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade; Spc. Matthew C. Macias, HHC, U.S. Army Garrison; Sgt. Marcus R. Love, D Company, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT; Sgt. Ryan H. Hollis, C Company, 2-87 Infantry, 3rd BCT; Staff Sgt. Nichol A. Claytor, HHC, 3rd BCT; Sgt. William D. Shafer, C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd BCT; Sgt. Jean E. Nelson, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 4-25 Field Artillery, 3rd BCT; Sgt. William A. Dyke, B Battery, 4-25 Field Artillery, 3rd BCT; Sgt. Matthew B. Stoess, HHC, 1-32 Infantry, 3rd BCT; Spc. Joseph E. Comminey, C Company, 277th Aviation Support Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade; Sgt. Jason R. Collins, HHC, 3rd BSTB, 3rd BCT; and Sgt. Perry M. Willett, G Company, 710th BSB, 3rd BCT.
Other WLC graduates are as follows: Staff Sgt. Kevin J. Zwijacz, Sgt. Ernest K. Amankwaah, Sgt. Thomas G. Bauschke, Sgt. Sean Bortle, Sgt. James R. Breen, Sgt. John T. Brooks, Sgt. Brian M. Cattaneo, Sgt. Oneil A. Coakley, Sgt. Willie D. Cotton, Sgt. David J. Cowan, Sgt. Joshua R. Crowley, Sgt. Adonas D. Daniels, Sgt. Sy Dickerson, Sgt. Joseph M. Draves, Sgt. Richard A. Forrest, Sgt. Brandon L. Hall, Sgt. David N. Helton, Sgt. Thomas M. Hensley, Sgt. Anthony Howell, Sgt. Brandon A. Huber, Sgt. Jeremy B. Irish, Sgt. Jonathan P. Irwin, Sgt. Larry J. Kessler and Sgt. Ian M. Krell.
Also, Sgt. Albert H. Languet III, Sgt. Jeffrey M. Lawniczak, Sgt. David J. Lloyd, Sgt. Victoria M. Magoun, Sgt. Andrew S. Mann, Sgt. Nathaniel S. McAvoy, Sgt. Christopher M. Niersmann, Sgt. Jason E. Pasek, Sgt. Christian A. Perez, Sgt. Yevgeniy Y. Popov, Sgt. John H. Price, Sgt. Giancarlo A. Ramos, Sgt. Justin Roethel, Sgt. Michael M. Riley, Sgt. Jacob C. Ryle, Sgt. Joseph R. Schnell, Sgt. Frank A. Shafer, Sgt. Adam J. Sherwood, Sgt. Aaron D. Shumaker, Sgt. Nathaniel P. Small, Sgt. Phillip E. Smith, Sgt. Torres A. Soto, Sgt. Nicholas A. Sousa, Sgt. Steven J. Sullivan and Sgt. Edward W. Surgeon,
Also, Sgt. Christopher J. Tennant, Sgt. Jake L. Thomas, Sgt. Ryan Thompson, Sgt. Rita F. Tonioli, Sgt. Kenneth W. Tyler, Sgt. Tofoi Upuese, Sgt. Robert C. Vickery, Sgt. John D. Virgadamo Jr., Sgt. Sheridan Westbrook, Sgt. Joseph T. Wieand, Sgt. Tia F. Williams, Sgt. Mark Wilson, Sgt. Travis L. Woodard, Sgt. Stephen Ballard, Sgt. Juan P. Bautista, Spc. Jackie Estanislad, Spc. Ian M. Fleming, Spc. Heidi Laughlin, Spc. Christina Knotts, Spc. Sherman K. Kohama, Spc. Ryan Legere, Spc. Travis S. Mcbride, Spc. Chijioke I. Muoghalu, Spc. Kevin O'hara, Spc. Frank V. Romanowski and Spc. Tara V. Shvetzov.