One by one, 14 soldiers from the U.S Army Cyber School were called to the stage in Alexander Hall on Tuesday afternoon to receive certificates in cyber operations.
The soldiers, who now wear the cyber distinguished regimental insignia pin on their uniforms, are the first to graduate from the cyber school at Fort Gordon.
“The soldiers you see before you and those who will follow in their path represent the Army’s solution to the department’s demand for our unique cyber missions,” Cyber School commandant Brigadier General Neil S. Hersey said as family, friends and peers gathered for the graduation ceremony. “As they transition from training to real world scenarios, they are fully prepared to face tomorrow’s challenge.”
Command Sgt. Maj. David C. Redmon with the Cyber Command said the graduates represent the cyber school’s progress.
“Your graduation is a testament to this new reality,” he said. “As the cyber command senior enlisted leader, I could not be more proud of how far we have progressed.”
Among the graduates was Sgt. Kaleena Williams of Panama City, Fla., who was not only the first to graduate from the school, but also the only female soldier to complete the 44-week training.
“It’s the military, so we are definitely the minority and it’s definitely in cyber or anything that has to deal with computers,” she said.
Prior to her time at Fort Gordon, Williams served as an orthopedic specialist.
Williams – now assigned to the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade at Fort Gordon as a qualified cyber operations specialist – said she saw cyber as a good career move.
“It was one of those things where the opportunity presented itself and I thought it would be a good field to possibly get into for my strategic career path,” she said.
Also assigned to the 780th is Sgt. David McNally, a native of Spokane, Wash., and recipient of the Distinguished Honor award. McNally said he relied heavily on determination to get him through the 44 weeks of training.
“It kind of gets difficult throughout even so much in the actual courses, but just the duration,” he said. “You have to have a sustained effort all the way through otherwise you will possibly not build to sustain your effort.”
For Staff Sgt. Matthew Hand, a native of Chester, N.Y., and recipient of the Leadership Award, encouragement came from peers.
“There was a diverse group of people who had a lot of knowledge when it comes to doing a lot of cyber stuff,” Hand said. “I actually got more from the fellow soldiers in the class and their knowledge, which I think facilitated overall.”
Hand is projected to report to the Cyber Protection Brigaide at Fort Gordon. Following Tuesday’s graduation ceremony, Hand said that he is confident in his skills to lead.
“I may not be good at a lot of things,” he said. “I may not be the best at cyber-ing as it is and I may not be the best technically, but I can lead and that’s where my strength is.”