News: An officer is born
Story by Sgt. Austan Owen
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - “I, James Sturges, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of second lieutenant do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;” was a part of the Oaths of Office as the newly minted officer made the transition from civilian to military officer. His professor of military science attached his shoulder boards as he donned his beret, with a gold bar on it, for the first time.
The former Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Army at Watkins Field during the Warrior Forge graduation ceremony on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, July 17.
Sturges recently finished the Leader Development and Assessment Course known as “Warrior Forge” ranking second in his regiment of approximately 450 cadets. During the ceremony he was recognized for his accomplishments as honor graduate and was presented with a plaque by Maj. Gen. Jefforey A. Smith, commanding general, U.S. Army Cadet Command.
Sturges, a Littleton, Colo., native, joins the ranks of officers and military members like generations in his Family before him. He said he has always thought about serving in the military and now he is a leader in it.
“It’s been a big family tradition, my great-grandfather was a general, my grandpa was in World War II and my dad was in military school when he was younger,” Sturges said.
The newly commissioned officer said his Family, and especially his grandfather, would be very proud of him as he moves forward into a career in the military.
“My grandpa passed away about three years ago and that’s really when I decided I wanted to join,” Sturges said. “When he passed away I felt like I needed to, and every since then it’s been the greatest thing I have ever done.”
Sturges managed to overcome several struggles while pursuing his goal of becoming an officer. Some of the determination has come from his experience in organized sports.
“When I started out playing lacrosse in high school I was pretty bad,” Sturges said. “My freshman year I picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time and decided I wanted to play, and I wasn’t very good. I didn’t play much. When I didn’t play those first couple of games, it just stuck to me that it’s all about hard work and determination. The next year I started and I’ve started every game since then through college. I was captain of my high school team and went on to play for some national teams and Team Colorado. I think it has really taught me a lot about team work. In that everyone plays a specific part but if you want it you have to go and get it.”
Being mentally and physically tough plays a large role in accomplishing any task in the Army and is a mantra that is heard repeatedly spoken from leaders’ mouths. Sturges has had some setbacks during his pursuit of a commission and has been able to persevere. One such incident occurred while playing lacrosse for the University of Colorado.
“I had a pretty severe shoulder injury; I ripped out all the tendons in my shoulder right before I joined the ROTC,” Sturges said. “So that set me back about a year, so I’m actually a fifth year senior now. I ended up going to basic training a summer later than I wanted to. I had a knee injury last year after I finished air assault school. I arrived here and they instantly sent me back because my body was messed up. So those have been a little bit of a setback but last year I just trained up again, came back this year, and it all went well.”
While one chapter ends another one begins, Sturges has received his commission and will be headed to a National Guard unit in Grand Prairie, Texas, where he will become an infantry platoon leader.
His dedication to studies, training and leadership skills have impressed both his peers and superiors as he moves on from Warrior Forge to the next step.
“He’s going to do great things, hopefully go out there and get a platoon and lead warriors in combat,” said Capt. Emil Kesselring, assistant professor of military science, University of Colorado, Boulder. “He’s one of the best and he’ll be a hell of a leader.”
“He will always lead from the front,” said Vincent Gonsior, ROTC cadet. “Infantry is a perfect fit for him, he will go to Ranger School and get tabbed, I have no doubt. He’s going to be an outstanding leader, he will be a poster child for Army officers.”
In the near future he plans on attending several more military schools.
“I look forward to IBLOC [Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course]; I leave Dec. 2, for Fort Benning, Ga., and then Ranger School following that,” Sturges said. “I’ve been looking forward to that for a long time, so I’m ready to get it started.”
For the future, Sturges plans on completing his commitment in the National Guard while working a tactical job for the U.S. Border Patrol in Texas. After his commitment is finished he intends to go active duty Army and join the Special Forces.
“This commission means a lot as far as the honor behind it, definitely the hard work, the blood sweat and tears that have gone behind it, it means a lot,” Sturges said. “It has been a long time coming; there have definitely been some hiccups along the way. It means a lot to me because I know that it would mean a lot to my grandfather as well,”