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‘Big Red One’ warrant officers celebrate corps’ 99th birthday

By Chad L. Simon | 1ST INFANTRY DIVISION PUBLIC AFFAIRS | August 04, 2017

     Members of the Mid-America Chapter of the United States Army Warrant Officer’s Association celebrated 99 years of history and tradition July 10 with a 5K run, a professional development seminar and a cake-cutting ceremony at Fort Riley.

     The day was organized by Chief Warrant Officer 5 Anthony Nistico, quality control section chief, 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. Nistico is also the interim president of the local chapter.

     The celebration started with a 5K run that took the warrant officers, families and friends around Riley’s Conference Center grounds. Then, the warrant officers attended a professional development seminar centered on the history of the warrant officer corps and its future. The day ended with a cake-cutting ceremony that also allowed the warrant officers on post to network with one other.

     The anniversary provided the chapter an opportunity to gather as a group in a professional environment that hasn’t happened as often as Nistico said he would have liked.

     “Due to our heavy schedule, we have multiple deployments and multiple brigades on different cycles, our chapter has been in a period of going in different directions,” Nistico said. “What I wanted to do was get things going again in our chapter.”

     Though Nistico has 29 years of experience as a warrant officer, not all who attended the event did. Warrant Officer Elida Garza, human resources technician, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st CAB, 1st Inf. Div., has been part of the corps for just a year. This was her first meeting.

     “I think this is the first of many, many warrant officer meetings and events we will be hosting,” Garza said. “It is just amazing. I am excited to know what else we can do as a Warrant Officer Corps.”

     During the event, Nistico provided an oral history of the corps. He wanted the Soldiers to be aware of the warrant officer past as the corps continues to change and move to the future.

     “What I don’t want my warrant officers to do is not understand the importance of the history of the corps,” Nistico said. “I wanted those guys to appreciate their history, and where they came from. Without understanding where you come from, how can you go into the future? To know where you are going, you have to know where you came from and that is what I was preaching to them.”

     Chief Warrant Officer 5 Sam Baker III, command chief warrant officer, 1st CAB, 1st Inf. Div., then gave a presentation about the corps’ future in the warrant officer 2025 strategy.

     Nistico feels the Army is expecting the current warrant officers to have a much broader knowledge base in the future.

     “The Army doesn’t just look at a warrant officer as a guy that is just going to fly Black Hawks for the next 29 years,” Nistico said. “They no longer look at us that way.

     “We have a few (warrant officers) that are actually in command positions now. Because of that, they need to be educated on equal footing with our officer counterparts. They are looking to broaden our warrant officers by getting them civilian education opportunities and broadening education courses.”

      Nearly 40 warrant officers participated in the day’s events.

      “I wanted them to walk away with a sense of pride,” Nistico said. “I wanted them to walk away with their heads held high and say, ‘Yes, I am a warrant officer and I am the best at what I do.’”