WOCS candidates experience history in Petersburg

Virginia National Guard warrant officers candidates visit Petersburg National Battlefield as part of their Warrant Officer Candidate School community project Feb. 22, 2020, in Petersburg, Virginia. The candidates were joined by WOCS cadre and provided an overview of the battle and its significance as the group toured the historic site. U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti)

PETERSBURG, Va. — Virginia National Guard warrant officer candidates took a deep dive into history during a visit to the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier and Petersburg National Battlefield Feb. 22, 2020, in Petersburg, Virginia. The candidates toured both sites, along with WOCS cadre, as part of their community project. The group first took a close look at what life was like for their Civil War predecessors, both on the Union and Confederate side of the conflict, and then migrated to the battlefield. There, each candidate discussed the significance of the site and provided the group with additional insight.

The candidates’ community project marks the midway point of their WOCS experience, which will culminate with a two-week training period in May at Fort McClellan, Alabama. There, the candidates will work through the third and final phase of WOCS before heading home for a recognition ceremony in front of their families, peers and Virginia National Guard leadership.

Virginia National Guard warrant officers candidates visit Petersburg National Battlefield as part of their Warrant Officer Candidate School community project Feb. 22, 2020, in Petersburg, Virginia. The candidates were joined by WOCS cadre and provided an overview of the battle and its significance as the group toured the historic site. U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti)

“We are learning a lot,” said Warrant Officer Candidate Alexander Matte on WOCS. “We’re basically learning how to think and execute tasks as a warrant officer, and the information we’re learning is helping to shape that we have the knowledge and experience to exercise disciplined initiative when it comes to tasks.”

The journey toward becoming a warrant officer typically starts with pre-Warrant Officer Candidate School. Pre-WOCS is a weekend-long training experience that introduces prospective warrant officer candidates to the WOCS experience. From there, candidates complete Phase I of WOCS, the distance learning portion of the course, and then start Phase II, which includes six drill weekends at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute. Finally, the candidates head to Fort McClellan for Phase III.

“I saw the impact warrant officers could have on the field, both with their subordinates and with their superiors in the officers that they advise, and I thought I would be good at influencing change in the Army for the better,” explained Warrant Officer Candidate Patrick Wise on his decision to become a warrant officer. Wise grew up in Petersburg and was one of the key planners for the visit to the area’s Civil War sites.

Warrant officers serve in a variety of career fields, from human resources to aviation, and serve as subject matter experts in their field. Matte said that’s exactly why he choose to become a warrant officer.

“I enjoy doing human resources fro the Army and I wanted to continue that to the next level,” Matte said. “I wanted to be a subject matter expert in my field and I felt that the warrant officer program was going to be the route I wanted.”

Wise said his WOCS experience was tougher than he expected, but incredibly rewarding. He praised the WOCS cadre for their work and said, “Teamwork is key. Being able to come together as a team effectively is truly key in the success of the class.” Much of the work the candidates do, including their community project, requires them to come together as an effective and cohesive team in order to accomplish the mission. “If I had to give somebody advice, I would say, ‘be confident, be capable and be able to work with people.’”

“It’s not an easy task,” Matte said about WOCS. “But, it’s a very rewarding one.”

The Virginia National Guard is currently seeking Soldiers interested in becoming warrant officers in more than 25 career fields from including aviation, information technology, military intelligence, human resources, food service and more. Requirements vary by career field, and those interested should contact Chief Warrant Officer 4 Wayne Sexton, at wayne.s.sexton.mil@mail.mil and warrant officer MOS requirements can be found here.

Virginia National Guard warrant officer candidates visit the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier as part of their Warrant Officer Candidate School community project Feb. 22, 2020, in Petersburg, Virginia. The candidates were joined by WOCS cadre and stepped back in time to learn what life was like for their Civil War predecessors. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Terra C. Gatti)