First African American First Company Commander of B Company, Recruiting and Retention Battalion and First and First African American Warrant Officer to serve as Aide-de-Camp

Chief Warrant Officer Five (CW5) Cornelius Charles:

CW5 Charles was born on 16 July 1973. He graduated from McGehee High School in May 1991. In 2010, CW5 Charles graduated from South-Western College in Wichita, Kansas with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and in 2014, he graduated from Webster University with a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management. CW5 Charles currently serves as the State Officer Personnel Manager (OPM) for the Deputy Chief of Staff/Personnel, Arkansas Army National Guard.

CW5 Charles enlisted in the Arkansas Army National Guard on July 26, 1990, where he attended Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. He served as an infantry Fire Team Leader in Company C, 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry, 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Cold Steel Charlie!).

In 1998, he entered the Active Guard/Reserve program at Detachment 1, Co A, 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry, 39th IBCT. He was later promoted to Staff Sergeant in 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry, 39th IBCT in Fordyce, Arkansas. Later he was reassigned to HHC 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry, 39th IBCT. After thirteen and half years in the 39th IBCT, he was promoted to Sergeant First Class in the 25th Rear Operations Center. He deployed with the unit to Iraq from 2005 – 2006. He served as the Operations NCO for five years until he was transferred to the 233rd Regional Training Institute Human Resources NCO position.

In April 2009, he attended Warrant Officer Candidate School and was appointed as a Warrant Officer one (WO1). His initial assignment started in the Installation Support Unit (ISU) as the Human Resource Technician. In 2009-2010, CW5 Charles was assigned to work as the S1 and Executive Officer for the Recruit Sustainment Program in the Recruiting and Retention Area Command. He was the first African American and Warrant Officer to serve in that position. In 2011, CW5 Charles served as the first Company Commander for B Company, Recruiting and Retention Battalion. He was the first African American to be assigned to that position. He commanded a full-time staff of over 36 Active Guard/Reserve soldiers with three Recruit Sustainment Sites that were responsible for over 350 new recruits.

In 2011, CW5 Charles was selected as the states’ MacArthur Leadership Award Recipient Nominee. CW5 Charles served as an Officer Strength Manager that serviced the entire southern portion of the state from July 2011 to December 2011, and in December 2011, CW5 Charles was reassigned to the 233rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute to serve as the Human Resource Technician. Additionally, in 2011 CW5 Charles was not only selected as the states’ first African American Warrant Officer Aide-de-Camp, but he was also the first Warrant Officer Aide-de-Camp in the Arkansas National Guard. He served as Aide-de-Camp to Brigadier General Patricia Anslow, the first female General Officer in the Arkansas National Guard.

In July 2014, CW5 Charles was assigned to the 39th IBCT Headquarters and served as the Brigade’s Human Resources Technician. CW5 Charles was deployed to Kosovo (KFOR23) in support of OPERATION JOINT GUARDIAN from July 2017 to March 2018. While deployed, he served as the Personnel Service Center OIC. Upon returning from deployment, in 2018, CW5 Charles was assigned to Joint Force Headquarters, Arkansas to serve as the State’s Officer Personnel Manager. As the State Personnel Officer, he has responsibility for managing records for over 700 officers and warrant officers and he supervises the personnel security section which manages over 6000 security clearances.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Commendation Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters, The Army Good Conduct Medal, The Armed Forces Reserve Component Achievement Medal, The National Defense Service Medal with two bronze service stars, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with gold hour glass with M device and numeral 2, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, The Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, The Iraqi Campaign Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, NATO medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon Joint Meritorious Unit Service Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Air Borne Badge, Air Assault Badge, and numerous other federal and state awards.

CW5 Charles’ military education includes Warrant Officer Candidate Course, Warrant Officer Basic Course, Warrant Officer Advance Course, Warrant Officer Intermediate Level Education, Warrant Officer Senior Service College, ARNG G1 Staff, ARNG Senior Human Resource Noncommissioned Officer and Warrant Officer, Mission Command Digital Master Gunner, Sexual Harassment Assault and Response Program, Master Resiliency Trainer, Human Resources Plans and Operations Course, and Protocol Event and Management Course for the military.

In 2023, Charles was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 5.