EL PASO, Texas – The newest graduating class from the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy was ordered by the service’s most senior ranking non-commissioned officer to provide the leadership that all soldiers are entitled to, June 22, during the academy’s graduation ceremony.<br /> <br /> Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler, the 14th sergeant major of the army, was the keynote speaker at the event and handed more than 600 graduates their diploma. The 62nd graduating class included service members from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and from foreign militaries such as Estonia, New Zealand, Malawi and Japan.<br /> <br /> “You’ve reached the pinnacle of the Army profession,” said Chandler, who previously served as the commandant of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, or USASMA. “There are only 6,700 sergeants major in the army, and you are one of those 6,700. There are more colonels in the U.S. Army than sergeants major.”<br /> <br /> Before graduating from USASMA, service members must complete a 10 month curriculum with special emphasis on training, military resource management and solving command problems.<br /> <br /> “A greater challenge awaits you as you return to the operational ranks,” said Command Sergeant Major Rory L. Malloy, commandant of USASMA, in a statement to graduates. “The knowledge and skills which you acquired and refined will strengthen both you and the army.”<br /> <br /> Among the graduates who were honored with special awards or distinctions were Sergeants Major Ryan Alfaro, class president; David Tookmanian, Association of the United States Army Award for Military Excellence in Leadership recipient; and Javier Abad, Veterans United Iron Soldier Award.<br /> <br /> Friends and family of the graduates who filled the cavernous Abraham Chavez Theatre in downtown El Paso, were able to see them receive a diploma from Chandler, and shake hands with Malloy and Command Sergeant Major D.L. Yates, director of the sergeants major course.<br /> <br /> After learning together in a joint service and international environment for 10 months, the graduates now embark on new assignments around the world.