For 23 years, U.S. Army Ordnance mid-grade and senior enlisted Soldiers honed their skills at the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools' Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Aberdeen Proving Ground.

That illustrious history ended as the remaining members of the NCOA removed its signs and emblems Aug. 11 and then conducted a Discontinuation Ceremony in Dickerson Hall at the Ball Conference Center Aug 12.

The remaining cadre from the academy's Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course departs APG this week to take up residence at the new home of the OC&S at Fort Lee, Va. The Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course relocated in 2009.

The Ordnance Corps is relocating in accordance with the 2005 base realignment and closure law. The departure of the Edgewood Area's 143rd Ordnance Battalion in the spring of 2011 completes the relocation.

Commandant and 1st Sgt. Anthony Dorsey led the Aug. 12 Discontinuation Ceremony which was delayed about 45 minutes due to heavy rains and flash flooding. The official party included Dorsey, deputy commandant and 1st Sgt. Dean Francis, and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Sammy J. Brinson Jr., a former NCOA commandant. Other former commandants in attendance included retired Command Sgts. Maj. James D. Leggins, Steven A. McWilliams and Robert Green.

Special guests included Col. John C. Kilgallon, chief of staff, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, representing Maj. Gen. Nick G. Justice, APG and RDECOM commander, and OC&S Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Sultan A. Muhammad, representing Col. Clark W. LeMasters Jr., commander of OC&S and Chief of Ordnance.

Brinson, who assisted in the sign removals the previous day, said he was "excited to return for the final chapter of the OC&S at APG."

"These are positive changes for the corps' future as a whole," he said. "Great noncommissioned officers have made history at this academy."

He recalled the academy's early commandants, Command Sgts. Maj. Willie Battle, George Cutbirth and Leggins, who mentored him as a young small group leader, and former OC&S Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Aubain who hired him as the eleventh commandant in 2004.

He said that by 2005, the academy was considered one the toughest in the Army and commended Green for "taking the academy to another level," when it received national accreditation.

"My time as commandant was a very important part of my life," he said. "Highly crafted training will now continue throughout our NCO's careers while utilizing the latest technological advances at the Sustainment Center of Excellence at Fort Lee, Virginia."

Kilgallon thanked Brinson for his service and said, "Returning to an alma mater says something about the heart."

He praised Dorsey and the cadre, "for the heart you gave and instilled in your graduates," and presented a plaque commemorating the academy's service to APG.

Dorsey thanked his commanders, cadre, guests and Family for their support and asked them to view the photographs of past commandants, Year of the NCO honorees and the academy campus that decorated the room.

Dorsey said that when he was told that he would be responsible for the transition and closing of the academy he thought he was not qualified but accomplished the mission with the support of the regimental and brigade teams.

"As a noncommissioned officer academy, it is our job to assist in preparing our NCOs for [battle]," he said. "The academy mission never waivered and its personnel remained strong. The personnel you see sitting before you today have done all they can to sustain, transition and close this academy and I hope the Ordnance community will approve our performance.

"It is with great regret that I say goodbye. Good luck to you all, maintain standards, and Go Ordnance."

Muhammad thanked Dorsey, Francis, and the NCOA cadre for "outstanding support and commitment" while ensuring, "NCO training is of the highest standard."

Noting that he attended Advanced Individual Training, BNCOC and ANCOC at APG, he praised the past commandants for their professionalism in training Ordnance NCOs.

"You handled them with great knowledge and great skill," he said, adding, "we have the right folks in place, on the team, doing the right things.

"Stay the course because we will see individuals developing as leaders today.

"God bless you, God bless the Ordnance Corps, and Go Ordnance."

The program included an award ceremony during which cadre members were awarded one Meritorious Service Medal, two Army Commendation medals, an Army Achievement Medal, five Order of Samuel Sharpe medals and 16 NCOA coins of excellence. In addition, Dorsey's wife, Karen, received the OC&S Keeper of the Flame award for her support of her husband and academy goals.