Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Former Louisiana officers celebrate 50th anniversary as new officers graduate

By Sgt. Rebekah Malone
Louisiana National Guard

PINEVILLE, La., (9/1/10) - For retired Army Maj. Gen. Joe Gary, the mingling of officers from the first class to graduate from the Louisiana National Guard’s officer candidate school after 50 years was memorable.

“It makes your heart jump. You can’t measure that,” he said.

In a weekend-long celebration, the old and new officers from the last half century gathered here at Camp Beauregard to reunite with previous classes and celebrate the graduation of 38 new officers on Aug. 28.

Festivities began Aug. 27 with a barbeque, which included 11 of the 20 officers from the first class. More than 1,600 officers have graduated from the course since it first began.

Silver-haired Guardsmen told stories of the difficult training they went through to earn their commissions to the young officers.

“It teaches you to operate under stress,” said former Army Capt. James E. McCarty of Madison, Miss., about the difficult journey of becoming an officer.

The sight of friends from long ago brought smiles to faces wrinkled with time.

“I haven’t seen some of these people in 50 years,” said McCarty. “Seeing them for the first time – it was amazing.”

Officer candidates may either attend the traditional officer candidate school one weekend a month and two annual training sessions over 18 months or attend the accelerated course.

Here, Guardsmen complete the training active-duty over three months. Classes 50 and 51A celebrated their graduation together with family and friends at Tioga High School in Tioga, La.

Second Lt. Jim Spurlin, the winner of the Leadership Award and an honor graduate for Class 50, said he felt relief during the graduation and looked forward to the future.

“I’m happy it’s finally over with a good outcome," he said. "And I can move on to a new step in my career.”

Army Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard, told the new officers they have remarkable opportunities to look forward to.

“You are embarking on a tremendous career,” he said. “You face a path full of exciting possibilities … you have the drive, you have the training, you have the heart and the leadership to step across the line and make a lasting impact on every Soldier you have the opportunity to lead.”

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