As most of my readers already know (you three loyal souls, I cherish you dearly), I just finished Warrior Leader Course (WLC) on Monday. It was a two week course, one that promised to help me become a leader in this wonderful thing we call the Army. In two weeks a lot can happen, and believe me, over the past two weeks a lot did happen. I’ve been struggling to find the right way to write about it all without creating the longest post in the history of blogging. There are a lot of little highlights that are important to me that I want to remember, but, beyond that, there’s the bigger stuff, the stuff I accomplished and the confidence I gained out of this experience, along with the basic stuff that the course involves, like the evaluations and the important training. With all that in mind, I’ve made the decision to provide you with this link to explain what WLC is. Beyond that, in order to explain my actual experiences during the course, I’m going to make a list (don’t act surprised, you knew it was coming) and make this a three (or even four) part endeavor, which may or may not help me to avoid writing the longest post ever.
Obviously, we’ll start with the first week:
- DAY ONE (Sept. 3)– They weighed me and discovered, shockingly, that I am not overweight. We spent time in classes and were given explanations as to what to expect during the upcoming two weeks. Let me just say that I was not a happy camper on day one, and I was, at that point, pretty sure the whole two weeks was going to be one wretched experience that would eventually end with an even more hostile Terra. Even on day one though, regardless of my negative thoughts, I started to notice that the people in my class, LC1, were awesome. My knowledge of the awesomeness of my peers only grew as the days passed, and I’m happy to report that I eventually ended WLC with a handful of really great new friends (and then I vomited because that sentence made me sound like an after-school special).
- DAY TWO (Sept. 4)– APFT, which, by the way, was my best ever. I finally reached my goal of 70 sit-ups in two minutes, and somehow managed to knock out 38 push-ups, which, for me, is the ultimate accomplishment. See, I’ve always struggled with push-ups, a fact I used to blame on my thin arms. I’ve never been able to go down far enough to complete a proper push-up and it’s a well known fact here that the APFT administered by the WLC instructors is hard, not because the standards are different, but because the standards are enforced and your push-ups have to be perfect in order for them to count. Needless to say, by day two, elated by the success of my APFT, I was starting to get motivated. Day two also involved more classroom instruction, and, of course, more bonding and laughter between my classmates and I.
- DAY THREE (Sept. 5)– On day three, I, with a partner, had to conduct PT (physical training). Seeing as this is the military and nothing is ever easy, there are certain steps and a certain amount of formality involved in doing this. Yes, even exercise is a formal event in the Army. There are a lot of commands to remember, most of which probably don’t make sense to normal, non-military people (“arms downward, move,” “fall in,” “the side straddle hop,” “extend to the left, march”). On top of that, you’ve got to remember to start with the risk assessment and a little jog in place, then move on to rotations (neck, arms and shoulders, hips, and knees and ankles), then stretches, then calisthenics, then the main body event, whatever that may be, then you’ve got to bring it all back around for cool down stretches. Anyway, let’s just say I did really well and got a 92 and I, along with my partner, was the first group to do this so, we set the standard and, after this success, my motivation continued to grow. The remainder of the day was spent in the classroom, laughing, learning, and hating life a little less. To be honest, I was totally unprepared for what actually happened when I conducted PT. It was raining and so the run we had scheduled was cancelled and my partner and I had to wing it. But still, I kicked ass and took names and didn’t fail miserably like I had originally suspected.
- DAYS FOUR & FIVE (Sept. 6 & 7)– Days four and five consisted of watching my classmates conduct their PT sessions and more classroom instruction on such topics as the qualities of a good leader, land navigation, and other things I’ve already forgotten. Day four also started our class evaluations, which involved us students giving our peers a class on important army stuff and basic soldier skills. I didn’t get to do mine until day six, but it was interesting to see how people presented the material they were assigned. By this point in WLC, my class of 18 was pretty close. We supported each other as we went through different evaluations and helped each other in any way possible. It’s amazing how throwing 18 people together, all from different backgrounds, can result in such close friendships, but, it’s one thing the Army is really good at. Throughout the past four years I’m marveled at the friends I’ve made through the Army that are so very different from me, but that I cherish. In my WLC class we had people from all over the US, with ages ranging from 19 to 40, all with different backgrounds and personalities, but somehow, it just worked.
- DAY SIX (Sept. 8 ) – On day six, I taught my class. Giving presentations in front a bunch of people is something I’ve always hated, especially when I know I’m getting evaluated on it. As with the conducting PT event, giving the class was something that also required me to remember a lot of steps. I didn’t forget too much and managed to get one of the highest grades in the class, a 95. I was scared, red-faced, and freaked out by the whole thing, but, once it was over, I realized I did an excellent job presenting the material and that my classmates remained involved throughout the duration of the class. Yay for classroom participation! Anyway, the topic I selected was about how to perform first aid for burns. Did you, dear reader, know that there are four types of burns (thermal, chemical, electrical and laser) all which require different actions when treated? Well, now you do. Again, with the success of my class out of the way, my confidence got boosted yet again and as before, my peers and I found ourselves trying to help each other more than ever. By day six, we definitely had the concept of what it meant to be a team down pat. In fact, by the time day six was over, we were holding up signs for our peers when they forgot certain steps when giving their classes. If that’s not called bonding, I don’t know what is.
That’s it for today folks, as the word counter below this post is telling be that I’m well over the 1300 words mark. Assuming I can remember all the joy of WLC, I’ll be back tomorrow with yet another fun-filled post, and hopefully, before you all lose complete and total interest in this blog, I’ll start writing about something exciting sometime in the near future (don’t hold your breath, I don’t want you to turn purple).
UPDATE: Click here to read part two of this tell-all tale.