Joplin, MO (SNS) – The Show-Me Gold officer training program at Missouri Southern State University has reached a major milestone – the program recently produced its first commissioned officer.

Capt. Chase Phillips, professor of military science and coordinator of Show-Me Gold, gave an overview of the program and introduced its first officer during the Board of Governors meeting on Friday, Oct. 16.

Now in its third year, Show-Me Gold partners with the Missouri Army National Guard for officer training. The program consists of classroom instruction, physical training and leadership laboratories. In addition to taking regular classes at the university, officer candidates take military-science courses and fulfill other requirements through the National Guard.

Josh Turner, a senior business finance major, graduated earlier this year from Officer Candidate School, which included a stint at Fort Meade, South Dakota, and several weeks at Camp Rapid in Rapid City.

“At OCS, there were candidates from all around the country there to receive training,” said Turner. “It’s an intensive, eight-week course where you’re evaluated on your ability to lead, learn and make decisions. It’s intensive … mentally and physically demanding.

“But having come through the Show-Me Gold program, I was prepared and had the tools I needed to be successful. It definitely helped me grow up a lot and learn about responsibility and time management, and the importance of staying in shape and maintaining my fitness. I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by really good leaders, mentors and people to emulate.”

A graduation ceremony for OCS was held at the foot of Mount Rushmore, with a commissioning ceremony for the Missouri National Guard held on Sept. 12 at the State Capitol in Jefferson City.

“It’s a real milestone for the program,” said Cpt. Chase Phillips, professor of military science and coordinator of the Show-Me Gold program. “It’s been the culmination of the last few years.”

Phillips said Turner will soon have others following in his footsteps. Four more officer candidates are expected to be commissioned next summer, with another 12 the following year.

“We currently have 41 students contracted,” he said. “We’re growing quickly.”

Turner will participate in monthly drills until graduating from Missouri Southern in May with a degree in business finance. Then, he will attend flight school at Fort Rucker in Alabama, where he will learn the ins and outs of the aviation world, receive survival training and instruction on piloting helicopters.

In addition to the leadership training through Show-Me Gold, Turner said his time at Missouri Southern has been very productive.

“I’ve definitely enjoyed the atmosphere, and the teachers have been really helpful and professional,” he said. “I’ve seen a change in my educational experience from when I was attending a two-year college. I’ve upped my game and been able to take advantage of the learning environment.”