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Seven alumni graduate from War Colleges

August 3, 2020

Six University of North Georgia (UNG) alumni recently graduated from the Army War College, with a seventh graduating from the Air War College.

Col. Jackson "Jake" Kurtzman, '96, Col. Michael Zopfi, '96, Lt. Col. Scott Childers, '99, Lt. Col. Richard D'Angelo, '99, Lt. Col. Erik Johnson, '99, and Lt. Col. Don Saxon, '00, were the UNG alumni who graduated from the Army War College. Col. Jay Maher, '97, graduated from the Air War College.

Zopfi, whose next assignment is with the 5th Corps as inspector general at Fort Knox, Kentucky, appreciates seeing so many fellow UNG Corps of Cadets alumni in Army leadership roles.

"It's a testament to what the school preaches," Zopfi said. "It builds leaders."

UNG is one of six senior military colleges in the nation, along with Citadel, Norwich University, Texas A&M University, Virginia Military Institute, and Virginia Tech.

Maher, whose next assignment is project manager for Apache attack helicopters at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, often runs into UNG graduates in the Army.

"You have a common bond, a common relationship, a reference point," Maher said. "It's great to see the quality of people UNG produces. It produces high-quality officers and even better people."

D'Angelo was glad to study at the Army War College with Childers and Johnson, his fellow '99 graduates. D'Angelo's next assignment is in Kuwait as director of operations for the 335th Theater Command (Signal) (Provisional).

"It's refreshing to see how successful UNG prepares graduates to be," D'Angelo said. "The preparation you get at North Georgia will serve you well long down the road."

The next assignments for the other War College graduates are:

Col. Jackson "Jake" Kurtzman: Senior Army advisor for the Army National Guard in Tennessee

Lt. Col. Scott Childers: Director of cybersecurity and strategic initiatives in the U.S. Army Forces Command G6 office

Lt. Col. Erik Johnson: 8th Theater Sustainment Command to be the support operations officer before assuming command of the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade at Fort Shafter, Hawaii.

Lt. Col. Don Saxon: Army Reserve Intelligence Support Center commander at Fort Gillem, Georgia.

A number of UNG alumni will start at the Army War College this summer, including Lt. Col. John M. Casiano, '98, Lt. Col. Jeet Kaji, '00, Lt. Col. Andrew Lennox, '99, Lt. Col. Anthony Passero, '00, and Lt. Col. Charles Wells, '00.

Lt. Col. Damon Sheffield, '00, will start his studies at the Air War College this summer.

"Selection for senior service schooling such as the Army or Air War College is highly competitive and indicates the Army's trust and confidence in the chosen officer to operate and lead at strategic levels in our nation's security apparatus," said Dr. Keith Antonia, UNG associate vice president for military programs and a retired lieutenant colonel. "The number of our cadet alumni graduating from senior service colleges and starting this summer is likely a record — yet another achievement that is highly indicative of the quality of our cadet program."

The Army War College educates and develops leaders for service at the strategic level while advancing knowledge in the global application of land power. It aims to produce skilled critical thinkers and complex problem solvers.

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