First amputee graduates from WOCC
June 15, 2009
By Jeremy Wise
- Former Staff Sgt. Johnathan Holsey distinguished as first amputee to graduate from Warrant Officer Career College
- Wounded Warrior graduates from Warrant Officer training
FORT RUCKER, Ala.--WO1 Johnathan Holsey said he dreams of a good night's sleep after graduating as the first amputee from the Warrant Officer Career College (WOCC) here June 5.
The 35-year-old College Park, Ga., native was injured in November 2004 in Iraq when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy.
The severity of his injuries required the amputation of his left leg.
Holsey began completing his goal of becoming a warrant officer six weeks ago.
"It was a lot of academic and physical training," Holsey said. "It was interesting because I've never done something at this level since I've gotten injured. It's probably a lot harder physically than I ever thought I'd be doing."
Fellow Soldiers portrayed Holsey as an inspiration during their training.
"He's definitely an inspiration to me and the rest of the class. (Holsey has) the drive (and) the will," said fellow classmate WO1 Troy Buford. "He's walking proof of resilience. He gives us all the more reason to drive on through the (small) problems and big problems."
Holsey said maneuvering through pushups, as well as climbing a hill during a road march, were extremely challenging with his prosthetic leg, but he pushed through every time, with no prosthetic malfunctions.
After overcoming challenges before and during WOCC, Holsey said he feels blessed to have been able to advance in his career.
"I believe it was meant to be because everything just kind of came together," Holsey said.
His classmates said they also believed Holsey's success in WOCC was meant to be.
"Just watching (him makes me realize) I have nothing to complain about. He's just (motivating) to talk to," said classmate WO1 Larry Cunningham.
Before attending WOCC, Holsey worked in Washington, D.C., and two of his former commanders traveled here to congratulate him.
"He should be an outstanding warrant officer. He's gone through combat (and) he's shown personal resilience," said Col. Jon Finke, director of the enlisted personnel at the Army Human Resources Command in Washington, D.C.
Sgt. Maj. Michael Walker, directorate sergeant major of the enlisted personnel at Finke's office, said Holsey's caring nature will help him lead Soldiers and he admires Holsey for never using his injury as an excuse to not complete his tasks.
Holsey credits his injury - and nearly losing his life - as the motivation to succeed at WOCC.
"There are things I've done after my injury that I don't think I ever would have thought about doing, (such as) running marathons, coming to WOCC (and) snowboarding," he said, noting he wanted to make life as normal as possible again. "I think when you come so close to what could have been the end of life you learn to try to live life."
In addition to his graduation and accomplishments, Holsey plans to run the Army 10-Miler in Washington, D.C., in October. He will attend the Warrant Officer Basic Course at Fort Jackson, S.C., from July through September, and then transfer to Fort Gillem, Ga. Before his next assignment though, Holsey looks forward to unwinding from WOCC.
"I haven't really slept for six weeks. I'm really looking forward to resting," he said. "The first thing I'm going to do (after graduation) is have a good night's sleep."