Rock Island Arsenal-Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center welcomed 10 new journeyman machinists into the ranks during a graduation ceremony on August 12.

The tradesmen completed a four-year apprenticeship requiring two years of college-level courses and hands-on training in every operational area of the factory. The U.S. Department of Labor-recognized program has a century-old history of delivering skilled artisans to continue RIA-JMTC’s mission of providing quality equipment for the military.

“Throughout its 112-year existence and more than 1,200 graduates, the apprentice school has certainly seen a lot of changes,” said Chris Largent, RIA-JMTC’s director of Home Base Operations. “What has not changed is its purpose. The program remains committed to training skilled machinists and leaders to assist the Army’s fight and win our nation’s wars.”

RIA-JMTC is a vertically integrated manufacturer that can take raw metal and pliable materials and create a finished product in one location. It features 16 major capabilities, including the U.S. Army’s premier foundry and the Center of Excellence for Advanced and Additive Manufacturing. Every aspect of the factory’s operations requires skilled craftsmen and most departments within RIA-JMTC count at least one former apprentice among their staff.

Like all apprentice graduates, these 10 artisans earned a permanent, full-time position at the factory. Many spend their entire careers at RIA-JMTC or elsewhere at Rock Island Arsenal post-completion, dedicating their professional lives to supporting U.S. troops.

“These 10 apprentices, who will be journeymen in a matter of minutes, are the future leaders of the JMTC,” said Col. Shari Bennett, RIA-JMTC commander. “I charge each of you the same that I charge young soldiers- remember your training, leverage your networks, never stop learning and when placed in position- lead with vigor. I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished. I look forward to seeing you fulfill your potential as leaders within the JMTC.”

Floria Moore, a machinist apprentice graduate of the January class of 1982 was the guest speaker. She retired from the factory in 2010 after 32 years of service. She became the first woman to head the apprentice program in 1992, led the armor division and served as the metal processing supervisor.

“Here you are at the beginning of a new chapter in your career at Rock Island Arsenal-JMTC,” Moore said. “Do not lose the pride and enthusiasm you have today. You will face many challenges and opportunities along the way- be ready. Sometimes things may look a bit bleak, but remember, you have three choices: give in, give up or give it all you’ve got! I most certainly hope you choose the latter. I wish all of you will hold your heads high and always be proud of your membership in a very distinguished group, machinist apprentice graduates of Rock Island Arsenal.”

Joseph Showers, the honor graduate of the August class of 2022, presented Moore with a plaque bearing a drawing of the Arsenal that was produced at the factory. The soon-to-be former apprentices were each awarded a commander’s coin, a U.S. Department of Apprenticeship and Training certificate, an RIA-JMTC Machinist Apprentice Graduate certificate and an apprenticeship pin.

Showers and his fellow classmates Bryan Baum; Shawn Behel; Joseph Findley, Jr.; Bryar Fuller; Charles Hender; Adam Hock; Cody Liske; Kirk Mullinnix and Chad Scott lined up before their family, friends and colleagues where Mike Demoss, RIA-JMTC’s machining division chief and sponsor of the Machinist Apprentice Graduate August class of 2022, introduced them for the first time as journeymen.

They reported to work on August 15 not as students, but as full-fledged machinists.