By: David Crozier Command Communications
The United States Army Sergeants Major Academy ceremoniously recognized the academic accomplishments of the 41 international students of Sergeants Major Course Class 63 June 20, by awarding them the International Military Student Badge. The Academy also recognized the service of four of its Military Professional Exchange Program instructors and inducted three former international military students into the International Military Student Hall of Fame.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rory L. Malloy, commandant, thanked everyone for attending the ceremony and honoring the international students.
“What a great day in our academy history as we formally recognize the academic achievements and the leadership of our international students upon the occasion of their graduation from Class 63,” he said. “Since 18 August 1975, when the first international student attended the academy we have graduated 698 international partners from 72 countries and class 63 has added 41 distinguished graduates to that roll. Class 63 international students have represented their country as a military very well.”
Malloy said every year there are a couple of students who stand out among their peers and this class of international students was no different. Most of the recognition is through academic achievement, he added, such as the student from Switzerland, Senior Warrant Officer Olivier Ditzler, who had the highest GPA of the international students and which also beat out many of the U.S. Army students; or the two students who for the first time in academy history were graduating with a collegiate degree – Sgt. Maj. Genc Metaj from Kosovo and Sgt. Maj. Yi-Jyun Chen of Taiwan – both of whom earned a Masters Degree in Leadership from the University of Texas at El Paso.
“However, I believe the class and international partners would agree the one who leaves the most lasting impact, not only for his academic achievements which were displayed during his attendance at the academy,” Malloy said, “But during the last couple of weeks of the course, in probably the most challenging department, he went down to San Antonio and underwent brain surgery for cancer, came back and completed all academic requirements and will graduate here this morning –Master Sgt. Baysgalan Olonbayar from Mongolia.”
Following Malloy’s remarks, the academy awarded the international students their student badges and certificates and then turned their attention to the Military Professional Exchange Program Instructors by awarding them the Meritorious Service Medal for their work and contributions at the Academy. Recognized were: Warrant Officer One John Kirkham of the Australian Army, Sergeant major Joao Marcelo Mota of the Brazilian Army, Adjutant Johannes Haans of the Royal Netherlands Army, and Senior Warrant Officer Mok Chia Kee of the Singapore Army.
Many of the international students who have attended the Sergeants Major Course have gone on to make significant contributions to the lineage of their own NCO corps and education systems, but only a few have assumed the position of their respective country’s or armed forces senior enlisted advisor, a position similar to that of the U.S. Army’s Sergeant Major of the Army. The Academy recognized three individuals who have done just that by inducting them into the International Military Student Hall of Fame. Malloy assisted each of the honorees to unveil their induction plaques.
The first honoree was Force Sergeant Major of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Chief Warrant Officer Raphael Oa, a graduate of Sergeants Major Course Class 61. Oa thanked the Academy for honoring him and then praised the work of the cadre for their efforts.
“The Sergeants Major Academy is a great opportunity for military education, personnel development, understanding of all aspects of army operations, including full-spectrum operations and irregular warfare,” Oa said. “The curriculum of USASMA is a great exposure to not only US army operations but also of several foreign countries. My advice to all international students is, you get out of it what you put into it.”
The next honoree was the Sergeant Major of the Swiss Army Pius Mueller a graduate of Class 47.
“It is a great honor and a pleasure to be here,” he said. “Nineteen ninety seven was the last time I was here as student. So you see we always come back to our roots.”
Mueller gave a quick break down of his country’s military and then encouraged the international students to understand one another’s military, accomplishments and what they bring to the table.
“We need a common language and a common understanding and this [Sergeants Major] course is a fine example of this process, especially together with all of the international students,” Mueller said. “I am convinced that due to this training you will be better NCOs indeed. It is certainly a benefit for all of our nations.”
The final inductee was the Sergeant Major of the Taiwan Army Chi-Jui Chuang who is a graduate of Class 54. Chuang immediately turned his attention to the international students who were graduating by addressing the things they learned while attending the academy.
“I want you to know, the knowledge that you get and the friends that you have formed here; the partnership will endure. What is more, the leadership skills you have acquired here will help you, your commander develop the NCO of tomorrow,” he said. “Without the dedication and selfless service of the [faculty] and leadership of USASMA we could not make this happen. It is indeed an honor to be recognized and inducted into your hall of fame and most prestigious NCO academy in the world.”
Following the ceremony the inductees were taken to the International Military Student Hall of Fame area to be shown where their plaques would be put on display among the other honorees of years past. For more photos of the ceremony and Hall of Fame Induction visit USASMA Photo Archive.