A hospital corpsman from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) recently became the first Sailor to graduate from the U.S. Army Warrior Leader Course (WLC) at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Darius C. Summers, leading petty officer of the Neurosurgery Clinic at WRNMMC, completed the month-long WLC on March 29. He was the lone Sailor in the sea of Army green uniforms who marched in formation for graduation from the course, described by Army officials as "hard hitting and intensive with emphasis on leadership skills."
Combining classroom instruction with practical application in the field, the WLC is the first course in the Noncommissioned Officer Education System (NCOES). It trains E-4s and E-5s in the fundamentals of leadership, as well as training management, warfighting, map reading, land navigation, drill and ceremony. To graduate, students must pass the Army Physical Fitness Test, and exams covering leadership, training management, warfighting, garrison leadership, physical readiness training, individual task training, oral presentation, military correspondence, and tactical leadership.
Service members from all military occupational specialties attend WLC, taught at an Army NCO Academy. The academy where Summers attended the course at Fort Bragg is the second largest in the U.S. Army Forces Command, according to Army officials. While the academy at Fort Hood, Texas is larger, Fort Bragg's academy trains and graduates more students than any other NCO Academy annually, officials added. Each year, the cadre teaches 15 Warrior Leader Course classes, with a 350-student capacity, and the academy has been recognized by the Army as an institution of excellence.
Summers, 27, explained that what he learned at the course will help with his daily duties.
"My job is to manage general operations in the Neurosurgery Clinic. I am given tasks from the department chief on how he wants the clinic ran, and my job is to make sure the junior enlisted carry out those tasks. I am also responsible for making sure the staff stays up-to-date on all training and the clinic meets Joint Commission standards," the Sailor said.
"Since we are now a joint command, I was eager to participate in a course that would help me have a better understanding of what it means to be a leader by Army standards," Summers continued. "I now have a better appreciation and understanding of what is expected of the Soldiers I lead and encounter on a daily basis."
A Detroit native, Summers said what he enjoys most about his job is the impact he has on junior Sailors. "I have the task of forming [them] into petty officers. I enjoy delegating their responsibilities, encouraging their growth, and assisting them in reaching their goals."
Summers said Army 1st Sgt. Eddie Fields, senior enlisted leader of the Department of Surgical Services at Walter Reed Bethesda, brought the Sailor's attention to the idea of attending WLC to hone his leadership skills.
Fields, and Army Staff Sgt. Jannette Shamaly, Summers' supervisor, describe the Sailor as impressive, responsible and motivated, and other colleagues of his agree.
"I am very impressed with his level of professionalism and technical skills," Shamaly said. "This Sailor can operate the clinic in my absence flawlessly. He is very knowledgeable in naval instruction and hospital standard operating procedures. I am very pleased with his performance both daily and in WLC."
Sgt. Linsey Siu, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Urology Services at Walter Reed Bethesda who works in the same department as Summers, served as his sponsor for WLC and helped prepare him for the course, along with Shamaly.
"This command could not have chosen a better candidate to represent the Navy as the first Sailor to attend WLC," Siu said. "HM2 Summers is always motivated and dedicated to whatever task he is presented. His military bearing and dedication to the service is displayed in all aspects of his job performance."
Summers said it was "great" to be able to represent the Navy at WLC. "I was embraced by the Soldiers. They respected my position as a corpsman. I was commonly referred to as 'Big Blue' and 'Doc.'" The Sailor said some of the Soldiers even came to him for advice and help.
"In the tradition of being 'Doc' in a field environment, a few guys came over to my rack to confide in me about personal issues, and others had me look at different sprains and things," Summers said. "If you missed four hours of training, you would be dropped from the course, so the guys would come to 'Doc' for assistance so we could push through. I enjoyed the time there. I earned a great experience, new friends and invaluable lessons," the Sailor concluded.
For more information about Army leadership training, go to the website http://www.goarmy.com/soldier-life/being-a-soldier/ongoing-training/leadership-training.html.