FORT CAMPBELL


Missouri Army National Guard selects warrant officer candidates

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Story by 1st Lt. Phil Fountain on 10/23/2017
JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri As the U.S. Army Warrant Officer Cohort prepares to enter its 100th year, the Missouri Army National Guard continues to add more "quiet professionals" to the ranks.

Earlier this month, two enlisted Soldiers were selected to become warrant officers here at the Ike Skelton National Guard Training Site.

The Missouri Army National Guard holds federal recognition boards to accession warrant officer candidates, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Rodney A. Hughes, the Missouri Army National Guard's warrant officer recruiter. Typically, boards are held monthly.

Sgt. Justin Vaughn of Warrenton and Spc. Heather Arnett of Eureka were selected as candidates for future warrant officer assignment in the Army National Guard's aviation branch. Both have direct enlisted experience with the branch, with Vaughn as an avionics specialist and Arnett as an operations specialist. After being selected, Vaughn said his goal is to fly the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and Arnett said she plans to fly the UH-72A Lakota helicopter.

"The process to become a warrant officer is rigorous," Hughes said.

There are two career tracks available, Hughes said. One is in a technical field, open to noncommissioned officers with particular military occupational specialties, and the other is aviation, which is open to Missouri Army National Guard Soldiers who qualify based on aptitude tests and other measures.

"Sgt. Vaughn and Spc. Arnett appeared before the board of senior leaders as a final step for selection," Hughes said. "It required a lot determination to get to this step of the process."

Additionally, prior enlisted candidates, like Vaugh and Arnett, must have the support of their chain of command. It can be time-consuming, considering they must still maintain proficiency in their current duties and attend their monthly drills.

"This is why I came in," Vaughn said. "It's a lengthy process, and I procrastinated a bit, but it's been worth it. I take great pride in being selected to be a part of the warrant officer cohort."

"I will do my best to live up to the warrant officer creed," he said.

Arnett said aviation has been a life-long passion and sees the warrant officer cohort as the best path to reach her goals.

"I went to air shows as a child and always wanted to fly," she said. "Since I have been enlisted, I have always wanted to take the warrant officer route to flight school. Being a technical and tactical expert in my career field is important to me."

"I'm excited about the opportunity to finally realize my dream," Arnett said.

While initial selection is a critical milestone, Vaughn and Arnett still have a ways to go to earn their warrant officer bar.

"The next step in the process of becoming a warrant officer is the successful completion of Warrant Officer Candidate School, at Fort Rucker, in Alabama," Hughes said. "There, they will be challenged mentally and physically."

Vaughn said he is ready.

"I expect the training to be extensive and challenging, but I am up for the challenge," Vaughn said.

Arnett agreed with Vaughn's assessment.

"I expect a lot of hard work and long days, but it will all pay off," she said. "Keeping a positive mindset is crucial to success."

The Army's Warrant Officer Cohort has a storied history and has been described as a cadre of "quiet professionals."

According to the Warrant Officers Heritage Foundation, use of the term "quiet professional" for warrant officers has its roots in a speech by then-Maj. Gen. Jack Keane, commander of the Fort Campbell, Kentucky-based 101st Airborne Division-Air Assault, who used the phrase to honor Chief Warrant Officer 4 Raymond A. Frank, an MH-60 Black Hawk pilot who was killed in Somalia, during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.

Warrant officers' careers are focused into highly specialized fields, such as: aviation, engineering, information systems and intelligence, among others, Hughes said. Currently, there are 221 warrant officers serving in the Missouri Army National Guard. They serve in 14 different areas of concentration, or branches, within the state's force structure.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Patrick J. Muenks, the state's command chief warrant officer, congratulated the two warrant officer-selectees and imparted some advice.

"You're the future seek good mentors, they'll steer you straight," Muenks said. "It's important for us to keep a solid pool of warrant officers and future warrant officers in the pipeline."

Muenks said he continually encourages those interested in military service to consider the path of the warrant officer.

"We seek talent wherever it lies," Muenks said. "I'm proud of our warrant officers and know we have a bright future as we embark on the next 100 years."

To learn more about the process to become a warrant officer in the Missouri Army National Guard, visit: https://state.nationalguard.com/missouri or contact CW4 Hughes directly at rodney.a.hughes8.mil@mail.mil.

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