FORT BENNING, Ga. -- The U.S. Army's 85 newest officers left McGinnis-Wickham Hall Jan. 26 charged with a tremendous honor and responsibility -- to guard and protect their nation.

Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, shared lessons he learned during his 42-year career as an enlisted Soldier and officer.

"This is the most significant step in your military career and every additional promotion is a reaffirmation of your accomplishment today," Justice said. "One who is grounded in Army values, whose ethical behavior and conduct meet the highest standard, will never fail."

The Officer Candidate School class began Oct. 24, 2011, with 139 candidates. The 85 new second lieutenants will disperse around the world in support of Army missions.

OCS Commandant Lt. Col. John Best urged the graduating class to strive for excellence and never be satisfied.

"You possess the values, ethos and ethical qualities needed to be an officer in today's Army. You leave here today as warriors and leaders of our national treasures," Best said.

Justice graduated from OCS in 1977 and was inducted into the 2009 OCS Hall of Fame.
"You are here to witness one of those moments in life that you can count on a single hand. This is beyond significant," Justice said. "This commissioning is not just about what they have done but about who they will be.

"This carries a meaning of great responsibility, moral courage, spiritual understanding and physical strength. Always honor the sacrifices that people coming before you have made."