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    Leave a Legacy

    Leave a Legacy

    Photo By Maj. Casey Staheli | A student in the Warrior Leader Course takes time to brief members of his squad about...... read more read more



    Story by 1st Lt. Casey Staheli 

    200th Public Affairs Detachment

    PRISTINA, Kosovo - During July and August 2011, three members of the Utah National Guard found themselves far from home engaged in a vital mission: to instruct, train and prepare junior enlisted soldiers for the roles and responsibilities of non-commissioned officers.

    “Knowing I’m responsible for the continued development and training of the Army’s future NCOs makes me proud,” said Sgt. 1st Class Casey Page, Warrior Leader Course instructor from Herriman, Utah. “I know that I’m developing the future leaders of the Army and so I take my job seriously. The soldiers that leave my care and training will one day be taking care of someone else’s son or daughter.”

    Page, along with fellow Utah Guardsmen Staff Sgt. Shaun Tucker from Washington, Utah, and Staff Sgt. James Churchtown from South Jordan, Utah, arrived at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo July 16. Between then and Aug. 29 they conducted two WLC classes for U.S. soldiers in Multinational Battle Group East, which is primarily made up of soldiers from the New Mexico National Guard serving a yearlong deployment in Kosovo.

    Page and the other instructors hit the ground running and spent countless hours getting students ready to assume the mantle of an Army NCO.

    “The hours you put in, it is incredible,” said Page. “It’s about 55-60 hours a week.”

    The long hours and dedication to the job are why NCOs are often referred to as "the backbone" of the Army. It is these characteristics more than anything else that the instructors would like to see their students remember.

    “What WLC students should remember is that they are leaders and they need to act like one,” said Page. “They influence soldiers, for good or bad, by how they act and by their character.”

    Tucker shared similar advice with his squad. “The most important things to remember are the Army Values,” Tucker said. “Live up to every aspect of the NCO creed. If you sincerely and honestly do that, the rest will follow.”

    An NCO is a military officer who has not been given a commission. NCOs usually obtain their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. In the U.S. Army all ranks of sergeant are termed NCO. They are the primary and most visible leaders for most Army personnel and are usually the leaders responsible for executing the Army’s mission and ensuring soldiers are prepared to execute their missions.

    Churchtown, Page and Tucker, who are all members of 1st BN/640th Regiment Regional Training Institute and full time WLC instructors at Camp Williams, Utah said Kosovo presented some unique opportunities and challenges for them and their students.

    “In Kosovo it is a little different because the student and cadre relationship is closer as you both live, eat, sleep and operate right on the camp together,” said Tucker. “Here in Kosovo, it also seems that soldiers are more vested in training due to the close proximity to their unit leadership.”

    Being in a deployed environment also seems to add focus.

    “One of the advantages of conducting WLC while deployed is the fact that the soldiers are in the right frame of mind, making training more realistic and keeping the students focused on ensuring their soldiers stay alive,” Page said.

    One disadvantage that Page pointed out, and one the WLC instructors had to deal with, was soldiers being sidetracked when something affected their mission outside of WLC.

    During the end of July tensions along the Kosovo and Serbian border greatly increased requiring a number of troops to be moved from Camp Bondsteel to Jarinje Gate in northern Kosovo. Many of those troops were in the WLC class.

    “Unrest in Northern Kosovo caused some problems for WLC,” said Page. “It influenced and interrupted our schedule on the first class. I lost students for two days, but on the other hand the realities of being a leader and the lessons we teach fell into place.”

    The WLC instructors, by being flexible, were able to use the events in the north to prepare other soldiers should they be called to the Jarinje Gate.

    “We were able to tailor our situational training exercise combat orders to current events and incorporate culture and other aspects of deployed and combat life in Kosovo,” said Churchtown.

    Feelings about traveling to other locations outside the U.S. to conduct WLC for deployed soldiers were mixed.

    “I’ll continue conducting WLC wherever soldiers need the training,” said Page.

    With a broad smile and a laugh, Churchtown asked, “Do we have soldiers in Fiji or somewhere in the Caribbean? I’d like to do a WLC course there.”

    As for Tucker, he is content to go without travel for a time. “This is my second time at Camp Bondsteel within the last year, so I’ll be happy to stay closer to home for a while,” he said.

    Long hours, travel and time away from family are all part of the job, but so are the many rewards that come with it.

    “The best part of being a WLC instructor is interacting with soldiers from all over the U.S. and having the chance to influence their careers for the better,” said Tucker. “I have had roughly 800 students go through my class in three years and it is a great feeling to know I have had a part in their career development.”

    Churchtown agrees. “Not many people have the opportunity to leave a legacy like the one found in teaching,” he said.



    Date Taken: 09.01.2011
    Date Posted: 09.02.2011 17:13
    Story ID: 76362
    Location: PRISTINA, ZZ

    Web Views: 138
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