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Guard’s warrant officer class does service project at St. Robert fire station
Guard’s warrant officer class does service project at St. Robert fire station

Warrant Officer Candidate Diana Eberharter, of Waynesville, cleans the inside window of a St. Robert fire truck as part of her Missouri National Guard class civil project.
SAINT ROBERT, Mo. (Aug. 10, 2009) — As part of their training, 10 Missouri National Guardsmen each donated about seven hours of work earlier this month to the St. Robert Fire Department.

The soldiers, from the 2nd Battalion, 140th Regiment Missouri Regional Training Institute Warrant Officer Candidate School class 09-001, washed and waxed fire trucks, set up a swimming pool for training purposes and community events, and cleaned rooms within the fire station as part of their class civil project. It was their final drill weekend for phase II in their three-phase path toward becoming warrant officers.

Warrant Officer Candidate Diana Eberharter, of Waynesville, helped coordinate the project. The idea came to her when she spoke with Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Polk, who works on post as a recruiter for the Guard, and her son, Michael. Polk is a volunteer firefighter with St. Robert, while Michael had volunteered in the past.

“I knew most of their staff was volunteers, so I knew that they would need help,” said Eberharter, who works at the 140th Regiment Missouri Regional Training Institute on post. “They said they had enough work to keep us busy for the day and we’re doing pretty much anything they need help with.”

The project is put together strictly by the class, without any interference from their instructors.

“I allow the candidates to develop this on their own terms,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Verslues, the class’s training, advising and counseling officer. “It’s a good thing for them. It teaches them to be proactive and how to take charge.”

Verslues, who lives in Jefferson City, said the purpose of the civil project within the training is to provide the full spectrum of Army operations, which includes the military supporting civilian authorities.

“Now that Army operations encompass homeland defense and all the civil military operations, this is their opportunity to come out into the community and learn to plan, coordinate and execute military operations with the civil authorities,” Verslues said. “What this does is it gives them a chance to see how to plan and coordinate these things on a small scale, so that if it was a disaster, they could come out and support the local fire department, if that’s what was asked of them.”

Serving country and community in times of state emergency is what being a member of the Missouri National Guard is all about, according to the warrant officer candidates.

“It’s what we do,” Eberharter said.

“We’re here establishing a relationship so that they feel free enough to call us by our first name or they know we are the ones going to be there putting the sand bags down or helping them out during an ice storm,” said Warrant Officer Candidate Ryan Newlon, of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, State Area Command in Jefferson City. “I’ve never really been in a fire station before, so it’s a good opportunity to experience something I’ve never seen or done before. It gives me a better understanding of how it works and what they do.”

Since the program began two years ago, the civil project had been done in the Guard area at Fort Leonard Wood. But this class hopes to start a trend for future warrant officer candidate classes to perform their service projects within the civilian community near post.

“It’s one of the things we want to do to help out the community,” Eberharter said.

Verslues wants the projects to continue to evolve.

“After three years, they’ve learned how to make this thing more beneficial to the candidates because everything has a purpose in it and it flows better,” he said.

The project allows the warrant officer candidates to show off what they’ve learned.

“As a warrant officer, you’re a leader and it’s good to get out there and be a part of the community,” said Warrant Officer Candidate Shawn Snitker, of Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, State Area Command in Jefferson City. “You learn how to adapt and overcome as a warrant officer — that’s your main focus. You are looked to as a professional and as a soldier who can find a way to do things better. This is an opportunity for us to get out here and show people what you’ve learned and your skills. That makes it all worthwhile.”

Newlon, who lives in Jefferson City, said it was a good way to use what they’ve learned in the classroom in a field setting.

“Being an officer, this project will help me be able to incorporate these skills or techniques into training my soldiers,” Newlon said. “To coordinate with a civilian entity and to communicate well enough to get something like this put together, it will help you to do that for your soldiers as well.”

Snitker added that the project was a good team-building exercise.

“We’ve been together six weekends now and have gotten to know each other pretty well,” said Snitker, of Jefferson City. “We’re kind of putting it all together here in our last drill. It’s something fun to do and it’s good to get out and do it together.

“This is good to balance your individual activities and your team activities to make them cohesive.”

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