Former Fellow Don Gomez Heads to the Army's Ranger Leadership School

don-gomez-ranger-school This post originally appeared on Carrying the Gun, the blog of former leadership fellow Don Gomez (2008-2010).

OCS IBOLC Ranger School Stryker Leader Course PCS

This week I graduated from the Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course (IBOLC). I’m now branch qualified, meaning I can go on and do my job as an infantry platoon leader. Next up is Ranger School, an intensive two month combat leadership course.

Lots of my mentors described IBOLC like this: “You won’t learn anything, but you’ll have a good time and do some good field problems.” While I see what they were saying, I actually feel like I learned a lot at IBOLC. It’s true that I knew a lot of the stuff from my prior service, and my mind and body were already prepped to quickly learn what I needed to learn. Still, I found that the course challenged me and I am leaving IBOLC a better leader than I arrived.

Our company had three platoons and each platoon operated independently from the others, each very differently, so individual experiences within the company varied.

It was difficult to track how I was doing throughout the course because our platoon cadre didn’t keep us updated on where we stood on the Order of Merit List (OML). At the end of Leader Forge, we learned where we stood. I wound up finishing 2/43 in my platoon and was named the platoon Honor Graduate. I competed for Company Honor Graduate, but came up short.

Highlights during the course for me include being the platoon leader for our platoon live fire, sustaining a nasty ankle sprain, carrying the guidon for the 16 mile foot march (sucks, but better than carrying the gun), and falling in a swamp. I was our platoon historian and created and maintained our company Facebook page (with the help of the other platoon historians). The Army also wrote a story about me while I was out in the field during Leader Forge.

It feels good to be wearing the Blue Cord again.

Don Gomez is a former Colin Powell Leadership fellow. He served twice in Iraq before studying at City College, and has since returned to the military. Read more about him and our other contributors.