FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Installation Soldiers and Family Members gathered June 17 to recognize 84 Air Assault School graduates from Class 01-11 at the Light Fighters School.

The class began with 138 students, but at the end of the 10-day course, only 84 Soldiers earned the coveted Air Assault Badge.

First Sgt. Lee Ward, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, provided remarks for the ceremony. He said the Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers who graduated put “everything aside for two weeks and focus solely on attention to detail in order to accomplish any mission with regards to conducting Army air-assault operations.”

Ward said he would never forget the feeling of accomplishment he had standing in the rain at his Air Assault School graduation in 1995 after completing the 12-mile foot march.

“(We were all) tired and shivering in the rain. I still remember (the guest speaker’s) thoughts on the importance of attention to detail and that graduating this course doesn’t mean just wearing a cool little badge,” he said. “(Upon graduating), I realized that not only the potential for the loss of millions of dollars of Army equipment exists, but more importantly the potential for loss of life to fellow Soldiers if I didn’t show attention to detail and perform to standard.”

Ward added that within a few months of graduating, he was able to use his knowledge and training to perform air-assault operations at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. After realizing a piece of artillery wasn’t secured properly, he was able to use it to teach his platoon the “importance of always checking, double checking, re-checking and performing to standard. The devil is always in the details, and he’s got friends with him at night when you’re cold, wet and tired.”

Ward encouraged the graduates to wear the Air Assault Badge with pride and to begin training their Soldiers immediately, because the knowledge they learned during the 10-day course is perishable.

“You (will be) called upon to use your knowledge at any time whether it’s here on Fort Drum or in the hostile environment of Afghanistan or wherever we as an Army may find ourselves defending freedom,” he said.

After sharing his remarks, Ward helped to honor the graduates.

Spc. John F. Meister, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, was named Distinguished Honor Graduate.

Sgt. 1st Class Jimmie L. Blockett, Operations Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 10th Mountain Division (LI), was named Honor Graduate.

Sgt. Bror W. McWhinney, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, finished the 12-mile foot march first with a time of 2 hours, 28 minutes.
Other graduates were as follows:

Capt. Joseph J. DiDomenico, Capt. Brandon M. Fulton, Capt. Christopher D. Goren, Capt. Timothy D. Schluckebier, 1st Lt. Ariel A. Alcaide, 1st Lt. Matthew J. Carney, 1st Lt. Lance J. Spielmann, 1st Lt. David Yee, 2nd Lt. Megan C. Conroy, 1st Sgt. Donovan P. Maciag, Sgt. 1st Class Andrew J. Benyo III, Sgt. 1st Class Brandon L. Morey, Sgt. 1st Class James E. Revels Jr. and Sgt. 1st Class Antwan Williams.

Also, Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Connolly, Staff Sgt. Daniel L. Dodds, Staff Sgt. Matthew T. Labo, Staff Sgt. John L. Lyse, Staff Sgt. Brian M. Pingon, Staff Sgt. Felipe Reyes, Staff Sgt. Carlos M. Taveras, Staff Sgt. Donald C. Walters, Sgt. Kyle C. Bluehorse, Sgt. Joshua R. Brandt, Sgt. Matthew D. Brittain, Sgt. Beau D. Clark, Sgt. Jesse M. Del Rosario, Sgt. Michael P. Leivas, Sgt. Andrew P. Lentfer and Sgt. Dustin C. Long.

Also, Sgt. Anthony P. McWherter, Sgt. Justin A. Monson, Sgt. Tyler T. Niesen, Sgt. Michael A. Pappas, Sgt. Jonathan C. Rector, Sgt. Joel V. Rojas, Sgt. Jonathan R. Spade, Sgt. Brian J. Tanney, Sgt. Justin M. Van Zant, Sgt. Andrew C. Zamagni, Cpl. Heath A. Darcey, Cpl. Adrian Fuentes, Cpl. Joseph E. Noganosh, Spc. Matthew A. Andreski, Spc. Benjamin T. Anthony and Spc. Zachary R. Berline.

Also, Spc. Thomas B. Daniel, Spc. Bryan R. Fischer, Spc. Adam S. Flanery, Spc. Salvador Gonzalez, Spc. Sadik Ibnmohammed, Spc. Michael D. Malloy, Spc. Ilya A. Marchenko, Spc. Jeremy M. Miter, Spc. Marcus E. Murray, Spc. Taylor S. O’Connell, Spc. Joshua E. Osting, Spc. Luke R. Pell, Spc. Austin J. Richardson, Spc. John M. Timbs, Spc. Zachary E. Tyree and Spc. Brent C. Whitaker.

Also, Pfc. Ryan A. Brown, Pfc. Victor M. Diaz, Pfc. Kyle Flack, Pfc. Tyler A. Fox, Pfc. Ryan S. Hamilton, Pfc. Dale L. Harbin, Pfc. Justin A. Leach, Pfc. Teviin R. Mapson, Pfc. Michael A. McDonald, Pfc. Benjamin G. Patterson, Pfc. Nicholas R. Silva, Pfc. Jacob Smith, Pfc. Cory P. Webb, Pfc. Sean R. Weikel, Pfc. Bryan R. Whittaker, Pfc. Jacob E. Williams, Pvt. Matthew J. Douet, Pvt. Patrick J. McTighe and Pvt. Jeremy A. Solano.