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Feb-11-2012 19:56printcommentsVideo

United States Marine Corps Brings Leadership Courses to Wounded Warriors

"Thinking about that day, my injuries was a life changing experience; something bad did not occur but rather something changed. My Marines, my Marine Corps, my family depend on me to represent myself as a MARINES CORPORAL!"
- Corporal Brandon Rumbaugh, USMC, Distinguished Honor Graduate

Marines from Wounded Warior Project singing Marine Hymn
17 Marines currently assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion East, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center detachment proudly stand at attention while singing the Marines Hymn during the Corporals Course graduation ceremony.
Photo by LCpl Daniel A. Wetzel

(BETHESDA, MD) - The United States Marine Corps and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center led the way in bringing leadership courses to wounded warriors so they can concentrate on their future goals. This new opportunity makes a loud statement to the world and the Marines who have sustained wounds during deployment that their injury does not have to be the end of their careers.

On January 16, 2012, seventeen U.S. Marines, presently assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion East, Bethesda detachment graduated from the Corporal's Leadership Course at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. This was the first time the formal professional military education was offered on site for wounded, ill and injured Marines assigned to a military treatment facility. Corporal's Leadership Course is a professional program in the Marine Corps that equips and prepares junior enlisted Marines to effectively transition from subordinates to small unit leaders. Staff Sgt Christopher D. Maddox, Gunnery Sgt Boris K. Peredo and Staff Sgt Thomas B. Kowaleski from Training and Education Command, Quantico, Virginia, taught the first-ever Corporals Course in a military treatment facility.

First Sergeant Michael Barrett, Detachment 1stSgt, Wounded Warrior Battalion East spoke proudly of the graduates. "Our wounded Marines and staff member that are in attendance speak volumes of how our Marines continue to maintain the "Warrior Spirit". Even during the rigors of rehabilitation and the uncertainties of the future, our young leaders of Marines continue to make every attempt to strive for personal and professional success. I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of these hard chargers. Words cannot describe what they have accomplished. They have set an example for everyone to emulate throughout the United States Marine Corps."

Corporal Tyler Southern was nominated by his peers to receive the Distinguished Gung Ho Award for the 607 Corporal's Leadership Course.  The Gung Ho award is presented to the Marine who possesses the intellectual honesty and morale courage to put aside self interests for the good of his unit, demonstrates the tenacity and self-discipline that is in keeping with what is known as a "Can Do" attitude and the Gung Ho Fighting Spirit of the Marine Warrior; an individual who clearly exemplifies Marine leadership by example, fosters the concept of "working together" as a team (GUNG HO) and demonstrates a tireless and unselfish effort in taking care of Marines.

After the graduation ceremony, the Marine graduates presented their leaders, Staff Sgt Christopher D. Maddox, Gunnery Sgt Boris K. Peredo and Staff Sgt Thomas B. Kowaleski, with award plaques they had crafted to show appreciation for their leadership, skills and expertise. The Marine students, currently assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion East, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, constructed the plaques from prosthetic devices that were no longer serviceable.

At the closing of the ceremony the graduates and heroes were given a thunderous roar of applause, "oorahs" by Marines in the audience, and a well-deserved standing ovation.

History and Development of the First Corporal's Leadership Course
at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

WALTER REED ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Washington, D.C. (Aug. 10, 2011)
- Capt Aloysius Boyle (center) stands with Julie Castles, Lance Cpl. Matias Ferreira,
Cpl Tyler Southern and Joe Butkus outside the Military Advanced Training Center here.
As the company commander, Boyle has been responsible for preparing the Marines at
WRAMC for their upcoming move to the "new Walter Reed" in Bethesda, Md. which
will be called Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Castles, a physical
therapist, and Butkus, an occupational therapist, work in the MATC assisting wounded,
ill and injured Marines in their recovery and will continue their work at the new location.
Photo credits: Captain Jill Wolf

When Captain Aloysius M. Boyle, USMC, Company Commander Wounded Warrior Battalion East, took command over a year ago at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C., he noticed a few things about the Marines. First, that while the Marines were recovering and rehabilitating from wounds received in combat, they were being treated like patients. At first glance, Capt Boyle points out, that makes sense due to them being in hospitals. However, what he noticed was that their treatment as a patient was overshadowing who they really were - United States Marines. As a result, many people in the hospital would call them by their first name, and due to their wounds, injuries or illness they rarely were in uniform or wearing their hard-earned rank.

"I found this to be undermining them," explained Capt Boyle, "and urged the hospital staff (civilian, military, medical, and non-profit) to talk to them and use their rank. When they lost their limbs, they did not lose their fighting spirit, and they did not lose the rank they worked for so many years to earn. By not using their rank, in a sense, we were saying their accomplishments were also amputated from their existence - not the case. This, in of itself, was a big deal for their psyche. When treated like Sergeants and Corporals, their zeal and recovery seemed more rapid. They found strength in each other and that was palpable. You can ask any of the Physical or Occupational Therapists; it made a huge difference.

"So, when we got settled at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in late August, I knew I wanted to have a full-fledged Corporal's Course. I tasked one of our Platoon Commander's, Gunnery Sgt Christopher Clookey, to organize and communicate with the Staff Noncommissioned Officer's Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He worked directly with them and Gunnery Sgt Peredo to develop an unmodified Corporal's Course for our junior Marines. To me, it was imperative, that we bring down instructors from the school house in Quantico to teach this course unmodified. In doing so, it would not only make our Marines more eligible for promotion, but would renew their zeal for the USMC. I think this was palpable on graduation day. It wouldn't have happened without Gunnery Sgt Clookey and Gunnery Sgt Peredo working directly together to build a schedule that went for two straight weeks (including weekends). The hours were grueling and the work-load intense when coupled with their physical and occupational therapy, as well as other time obligations (family, school, appointments, etc.).

"I knew this program would further their recovery. Corporal's Leadership Course is designed to equip and prepare Marines to smartly transition from subordinates to small unit leaders. They will gain insight on key facets of their new grade/rank and responsibilities and are thus prepared to take on future leadership challenges. What the Marines walk away with from this course is leadership skills, a new outlook on different physical training programs, the history of the Noncommissioned officer, sword and guidon manual, patrolling, counseling and mentoring Marines, as well as professional knowledge for assuming greater responsibilities and a contribution to the USMC. I could not be more proud of these heroes and their indomitable spirit."

Corporal Brandon Rumbaugh's Story - Still in the Fight

Cpl. Brandon Rumbaugh, Corporals Course honor graduate, is congratulated by
Sergeant Maj. Dennis W. Reed, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Combat
Development Command during a graduation ceremony here. Seventeen Marines
currently assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion East, Walter Reed National
Military Medical Center detachment participated in the course, which is the first
time the formal professional military education was offered on site for wounded,
ill and injured Marines assigned to a military treatment facility.
Photo by Capt. Jill L. Wolf

Corporal Brandon Rumbaugh, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, joined the Marines in November 2007 with only one goal – be the best Marine he could possibly be. He achieved that goal. Within a short time, Cpl Rumbaugh became a squad leader.

He redeployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in September 2010, with the 1ST BATTALION, 8TH MARINES. Cpl Rumbaugh, while conducting combat operations, was severely wounded in Afghanistan on November 9, 2010 when he hit an IED, suffering one above the knee and one below the knee amputation. When Lance Corporal Richie Chavis stepped on an IED in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Cpl Rumbaugh grabbed a stretcher and rushed toward him.

Rumbaugh stepped on another IED causing a blast, throwing him into a back flip. Rumbaugh says, "I have no regrets. Both of us lived. If I had hesitated, my friend may have died. I did it serving my country. I wouldn't take any of it back."

"The bond that Marines share with one another cannot be found anywhere else," said Cpl Rumbaugh.

"We are a very small brotherhood that I can honestly say would take a bullet for any given Marine at any time, without question. It is what sets us apart from other branches of the military. My platoon Sergeant, Staff Sgt Glen Silva, is also a patient at Bethesda.

"He is the main reason why I come to work every day and put forth such an effort. He has been my direct support here while I have been going through this whole process of recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. If I need anything, he is always my 'go to guy.' It doesn't matter what it is or what time of the day it is. He will drop everything just to come and talk to me. If there is one Marine I would like to emulate, it would be him. He is my role model.

"My Section Leader, Sgt Eric Wheeling, at WRNMMC, played a huge part in my recovery. Besides being the Marine in charge of me during my stay here, he is a very close friend who has guided me through tough times. As my trainer for the Wheelchair Games, he pushed me day in and day out. He made me believe that settling for anything less than gold was not acceptable. He spent countless hours after work training me and pushing me to become the Marine I am today. I can't thank him enough for everything he has done for me."

Chair Warriors

Cpl. Brandon C. Rumbaugh rolls down the
graduation line at the Walter Reed National Military
Medical Center Bethesda, Md., Jan. 16. Rumbaugh
was the distinguished honor graduate for the first
Wounded Warrior Detachment corporals course.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Daniel A. Wetzel

Cpl Rumbaugh won the Bench Press Championship at the 31st National Wheelchair Games in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in August 2011.  His pre injury bench press weight was 450 lbs.  He pressed 280 in the Wheelchair Games, over twice his weight, just twenty-one months after his injury in Afghanistan.  

Cpl Rumbaugh shared, "Competing in the Wheelchair Games with veterans who share similar challenges was both inspiring and motivational." 

Sgt Wheeling, Cpl Rumbaugh's trainer, believes that the Wheelchair Games are "extraordinarily therapeutic" for the patients at WRNMM. You can view Corporal Brandon Rumbaugh's Wheelchair Weight Lifting Competition at: and

"Corporal's Course was also another big step for me. I learned so much in a short period of time. Through their encouragement and the knowledge I gained from my instructors, Gunnery Sgt Peredo, Staff Sgt Maddox and Staff Sgt Kowelski, I felt strongly that the U.S. Marine Corps is where I want to continue to serve. There is no doubt in my mind that I will have the tools to successfully train young Marines to a high standard, to the exact standards the instructors from Corporal's Course instilled in me and

my fellow classmates on a daily basis," Cpl. Rumbaugh said.

Cpl Rumbaugh is determined to help other Marines prepare for combat and has aspirations to move to North Carolina to help train Marines at the School of Infantry at Camp Geiger.

For more information on opportunities for Marines who have sustained injuries during deployment read:  "Staying Marine - Permanent and Expanded Limited Duty (PLD) (EPLD) Fact Sheet."

Homes for Wounded Warriors is building Cpl Rumbaugh's house.  "They are a great group of people," Cpl Rumbaugh shares, "and have been very supportive in many ways.  The founder, Captain E. Markus Trouerbach, an active duty Marine, has been my mentor throughout my recovery process.  A lot of my success is due to his knowledge, motivation and amazing leadership."

Photo Credits: Lance Cpl. Daniel A. Wetzel

Graduates and Heroes Share Their Stories

Video: "Still in the Fight"

A U.S. Marine, Mike Corrado wrote "Still In The Fight" as a way to draw attention to the struggles many service men and women face after being wounded in combat.

‘Still In the Fight’ is dedicated to our Wounded Warriors, who have sacrificed so much for their country. Though they may be far from the battlefield, their fight for recovery continues. For those 'Still In The Fight,' this is their fight song.

The video features three heroic wounded warriors; Marine Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter, Marine Master Sergeant William "Spanky" Gibson, Marine Corporal Aaron Mankin.

This song & video are dedicated to all the wounded warriors, past and present. Proceeds benefit the Fisher House Foundation; they provide a "home away from home" for military families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.

Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter
Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter's Story
Photo Credit: LCpl Daniel E. Wetzel


In July of 2010 Lance Corporal Carpenter deployed to Marjah, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. LCpl Carpenter was injured by an enemy hand grenade November 21st, 2010 where he sustained loss of his right eye and frag wounds to the face.

I think for guys who get severely injured and can’t move forward, it’s because the ‘what-ifs’ absolutely destroy their recovery. It’s human nature for everyone to say ‘what if,’ but I try to snap out of it as quickly as I can because I’m never going to be able to go back and change what has happened. - Lance Corporal Kyle Carpenter

From left to right standing is Sergeant Lubbe, Lance
Corporal Simone, and Corporal Donnelly. Corporal
Todd Love is front and center. National Museum of
the Marine Corps, Quantico, VA, January 23, 2012
Photo Credit: Coral Anika Theill


Cpl Todd Love was point man on a foot patrol on the morning of October 25th, 2010 when he hit an IED, suffering double hip-disarticulation, and the amputation of his left knife hand below the elbow.

Corporal Todd Love's Story

Cpl Tyler Southern with his aunt at Corporal's
Leaderhship Graduation, Jan. 16, 2012. Photo by
Coral Anika Theill
Corporal Tyler Southern's Story


On March 5, 2010 Lance Corporal Tyler Southern deployed with 1/2 Weapons Company for combat missions in Afghanistan.

While conducting a combat mission on May 05 of 2010, Southern stepped on a 10 pound pressure plate which activated an I.E.D He sustained a bi-lateral above the knee amputation and left arm below the elbow amputation.

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda Corporal’s Leadership Course Graduates

The graduating class of the first Wounded Warrior Detachment Corporal's
Leadership Course at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda,
MD, Jan. 16, 2012. The detachment's goal is to continue professional
development classes to wounded warriors throughout the Marine Corps.
U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl. Daniel A. Wetzel

In his speech at the Corporal's Leadership Course graduation, Sergeant Major Dennis W. Reed, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, used the analogy of sports while speaking to the graduates. "Sports announcers and fans look at football players as heroes at the height of a game. The fans applaud them for making brave decisions on the field," explained Sgt Major Reed. "I always tell people, if you want to meet real heroes, here they are. These are guys who make brave decisions and put their life on the line and pay the price for it." He encouraged the graduates to teach their fellow Marines and subordinates the standards they have learned in the Corporal's Leadership Course and enforce them. He said, "Proficiency is a skill, professionalism is a way of life. You, the NCO's, are the backbone of the Corps."

Cpl Brandon Rumbaugh, Philadelphia, PA, 1ST BATTALION, 8TH MARINES, Cpl Tony Mullis, Warner Robbins, GA, 2ND CEB, Cpl Manuel Jimenez, Brooklyn, NY, 2ND BATTALION, 6TH MARINES,

Cpl Todd Love, Marietta, GA,1ST RECON, LCpl Anthony Stevenson, Benton, KY, 2ND BATTALION, 9TH MARINES, Cpl Harrison Brooks, Joliet, IL, 3RD BATTALION, 4TH MARINES, Cpl Dominic Davila, Chicago, IL, 2ND BATTALION, 8TH MARINES, Cpl Kevin Hoffman, Middletown, NJ, 3RD BATTALION, 6TH MARINES, Cpl Rory Hamill, Bricktown, NJ, 2ND BATTALION, 8TH MARINES

Cpl Tyler Southern, Anderson, SC, 1st BATTALION, 2ND MARINES, Cpl Jeffrey Kessler, Easton, MD, 3RD BATTALION, 2ND MARINES, Cpl Jonathan Oliveria, Newark, NJ, 3RD BATTALION, 6TH MARINES, LCpl Mark Sackett, Winchester, VA, 2ND BATTALION, 6TH MARINES, LCpl William Carpenter, Jackson, MS, 2ND BATTALION, 9TH MARINES,

LCpl John Patterson, Columbia, MD, 3RD BATTALION, 9TH MARINES LCpl Jonathan Bedwell, Athens, TN, 2ND BATTALION, 8TH MARINES, Cpl Aqel King, New York, NY, WWBN-East Det Bethesda

Wounded Warrior Programs

There are many great foundations and non-profits to assist our wounded warriors.  One of the non-profit foundations that has been really engaged over the past year and seems different than the others, is the Travis Manion Foundation.  They are committed to keeping alive the spirit of service exemplified by all those who have given their lives in defense of our nation. 

Their foundation has supported our Marines/Sailors in many ways, i.e, HM3 Raffetto, Cpl Rumbaugh, and 1stLt Fallon.  As tuition assistance is getting cut across the Marine Corps, they have helped by providing funds to some of our wounded warriors so that they can continue with their education plans and make a successful transition. This program is called Challenge Grants.  Essentially any veteran or spouse can apply for a grant and they will fund it.

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Tribute to U.S. Navy Corpsman, who go
every step of the way with U.S. Marines. Photo by Coral Theill

For example: a Non-Medical Attendant wants to be Red Cross certified so she can better care for her husband/son.  They apply for a grant and the Travis Manion Foundation will fund the entire cost.  Additionally, they have a public speaking seminar called Character Does Matter.  In these forums, they go into the community or high schools and talk about the importance of character and value. Cpl Brandon Rumbaugh will be participating in these forums in the near future."

Another non-profit organization is Quality of Life Plus.  The mission of the Quality of Life Plus (QL+) Program is to foster and generate innovations to aid and improve the quality of life of those injured in the line of duty, an objective that closely echoes the Wounded Warrior Project’s (WWP) own mission to "honor and empower our nation’s wounded warriors."  A central focus of their program is to provide a technological advantage to aid injured Veterans as they reintegrate into the civilian workforce.  QL+ innovations can help overcome the physical obstacles that may otherwise limit job opportunities, enabling those with service-related injuries to effectively compete with other jobseekers.

Service members severely injured by roadside bombs and other weapons used against them face lengthy and difficult recoveries.  Military hospitals seek new ways to improve their quality of life, aid healing, and reintegrate them into society.  In 2007 Musicorps began a revolutionary program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to help war veterans adjust to postwar life and help cope with trauma.Musicorps – an intensive music rehabilitation program at Walter Reed Medical Center – is an unprecedented approach that helps achieve these goals. 

Musicorps replicates “real world” music relationships so that service members work on, and are motivated to work on, robust goal-oriented projects. Musicorps integrates individualized projects, regular visits by highly accomplished musicians, and the use of specially-assembled computer-based music workstations along with traditional instruments.

Visiting musicians guide participants throughout their projects, offering everything from instrumental instruction to production assistance. Working in whatever musical style they prefer, participants are able to learn, play, write, record, and produce original material. Musicorps can accommodate any wounded warrior, regardless of musical background or other circumstances.  “This gives us a piece of us back.” - Sergeant Nicholas Firth, Musicorps’ first participant.

How You Can Get Involved through Volunteer Work and/or Donations
Here are a few of the Wounded Warrior Programs that have made a huge difference in the recovery of our nation's heroes: 
Wounded Warrior Regiment
Travis Manion Foundation
Homes for Wounded Warriors
Quality of Life
Fisher House Foundation
Ride to Recovery
Racing for Our Heroes


    The staff sends our congratulations to all the graduates of the First Corporal's Leadership Course at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

    We know you will achieve great things.  Thank you for your service and sacrifice.  Your spirit, strength, resilience and courage inspires us all.  Our prayers are with you.  

Essential List for Military Families and Veterans in Need - by Joshua Kors - The Nation

Home for our Troops Web link:

"Those who serve may already know the toll of having to kill or be killed, but civilian society should also recognize that those who go into battle defending our way of life pay a price. As a non-military writer researching the subject of Marines and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury and Suicide Prevention, I feel a deep gratitude to our servicemen and women and believe our society needs to do more to respect, understand and support those returning from deployment in conflict zones. Please share the link with friends and family." - Coral Anika Theill, Author, Advocate and Contributing Writer for Leatherneck Magazine 

Coral Anika Theill, reporter and advocate, is author of "BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark." Her book and articles have encouraged and inspired numerous trauma victims and wounded Marines/soldiers recovering from PTSD. Coral's positive insights as a survivor have also earned the respect of clinical therapists, advocates, attorneys, professors and authors. Coral Theill believes "The Gift of Healing is Our Birthright."

Coral Anika Theill’s published book, BONSHEA, has been used as a college text for nursing students at Linfield College. BONSHEA: Making Light of the Dark by Coral Anika Theill can be ordered at:,, Email:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Dark Night of the Soul May 29, 2012 9:57 pm (Pacific time)

It was, as usual, an outstanding article by Ms. Theill. And yes, homeless Marines should be taken care of. If we can afford the war, we can afford to care for those who gave their all for it.

Editor: Amen and Semper fi

COLLI February 17, 2012 5:40 am (Pacific time)

Outstanding article! Articles like this take a giant step in helping us understand the bravery and selflessness of out Marines. It also brings to light the cost of war and how much is lost as a direct result of armed conflict. We owe these brave men and women more than we could ever repay! Thank you Salem-News for top-notch reporting and editing of stories that need to be told.

Mark A. Edwards February 13, 2012 11:00 am (Pacific time)

Good job taking care of the Marines, now let's see about those Marines that will be released into sociaty, can we look into providing them with training for their next career move. Thanks again from all Marines

Rudolph Styner February 12, 2012 1:18 pm (Pacific time)

Hi Tim. Saw this Coral article on the Marines. this is what we come to expect from your group, and it is incredible that you somehow are able to blend your position of peaceful goals with the never-ending mission of supporting our veterans.  Hats off to you friend.

Jess Phillips, Jr. February 12, 2012 12:56 pm (Pacific time)


Tim King: Thank you Jess, and also Captain Aloysius Boyle!  Let's support these guys every day of our lives, semper fi.

Jess Phillips, Jr. February 12, 2012 12:52 pm (Pacific time)

Coral, you are a true Patriot. This is a fantastic article. Thanks also to Tim and all of the Salem News staff.

Captain Aloysius Boyle February 12, 2012 8:06 am (Pacific time)

Coral, and all our friends at Salem-News Thanks for doing such a wonderful job with this article. The photos are tremendous. Together, they really capture the indomitable fighting spirit of our Marines.

Matt Johnson February 12, 2012 2:55 am (Pacific time)

Fantastic story! It is so good to know these Marines are being taken care of, they look incredible and strong, rare good news to go with the bad, thanks.

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