South Dakota Guard Candidate School graduates 11 soldiers

RAPID CITY – South Dakota Army National Guard graduated 11 new warrant officers in a ceremony held at Camp Rapid in Rapid City on Aug. 1.

The Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) recruits soldiers to become warrant officers and subject matter experts in their respective fields. The program develops their leadership and communication skills to make them stronger leaders in their units.

“The biggest challenge of the course is bringing these people together who may or may not know anything about each other and getting them to work as a cohesive team,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Clinton Store, senior instructor for the WOCS with First Battalion, 196th Regional Training Institute.

This year’s WOCS graduating class was unique in its combination of two different course options. Five of the WOCS soldiers took part in the “fast track course,” which consisted of two consecutive weeks of training in South Dakota. While the other six WOCS soldiers participated in the “traditional training course” from October 2019 through March 2020, one weekend a month during that time frame.

“The WOCS course was extremely challenging, but my classmates and I all agree that it was worth it,” said Warrant Officer 1 Jared Schrupp.

Before graduating, all WOCS soldiers completed training at the 200th Regional Training Institute, Fort McClellan in Anniston, Ala. The soldiers were tested both physically and mentally; they were taught skills that prepared them as officers for the challenges that lie ahead.

Warrant officers make up the technical foundation of the United States Army, specializing in a technical area.

The warrant officer’s duty is to help their fellow soldiers maintain, operate and integrate Army systems and equipment across the full spectrum of Army operations building the South Dakota Army National Guard into a stronger and united force.

Included in the soldiers who graduated from the current class was Warrant Officer 1 Chris Johnston, who will now take on the duties as Quartermaster for the 109th Engineer Battalion in Rapid City. Johnston is a 1999 graduate of Woonsocket High School and the son of Mary Kay and the late Dick Johnston. One of his instructors for the WOCS program was Woonsocket’s very own, Joel Rassel.

…See a photo in this week’s issue of the Sanborn Weekly Journal!

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