Benz elevated to senior officer candidate

Officer Candidate Michael Benz of Blue Springs was one of six soldiers in the Missouri National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 140th Regiment Missouri Regional Training Institute Officer Candidate Class 48 to go through a Turning Blue Ceremony on March 6 at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

The ceremony recognizes the classes’ elevation to senior officer candidates, which means they are two-thirds of the way through their 18-month, traditional Officer Candidate School program.

“This is motivating and is a sense of accomplishment because we’ve worked really hard over the past year,” Benz said of his progress. “I got home in March of 2009 from Kosovo and dove right into officer candidate school. ‘I’ve got a two-month old baby at home and it’s been pretty stressful, so I’m just happy to have this milestone. I’m motivated to stay the course and get my commission.” Benz deployed to Kosovo with the 110th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade of Kansas City in 2008.

A member of Company A, 35th Special Troops Battalion, of Kansas City, Benz has been in the Guard almost five years, after six years in the Marine Corps Reserves.

After graduation, Benz will further train in engineering. He graduated from Blue Springs High School in 1993 and is nine hours short of a criminal justice degree from Missouri Western State University. Once he graduates from officer candidate school, he plans to return to school to finish the degree. For his civilian career, Benz works as an outside salesman for an electrical distributor, Shaw Supply Co. of Kansas City.

He is supported in his military career by his wife, Hollie, and two daughters, Abbie, 4, and Noelle, 2 months, as well as his parents, Monty and Marie Benz.

Holt completes basic training in Navy

Navy Seaman Kasie R. Holt, daughter of Chris W. Holt of Independence, recently completed U.S. Navy basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill.

During the eight-week program, Holt completed a variety of training which included classroom study and practical instruction on naval customs, first aid, firefighting, water safety and survival, and shipboard and aircraft safety. An emphasis was also placed on physical fitness.

Holt is a 2005 graduate of Truman High School.