FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – As the senior enlisted adviser for 1st Brigade Combat Team, Command Sgt. Maj. Derek G. Wise was vigilant about wearing a face mask, washing his hands and protecting himself, his Family and his team from the invisible threat of COVID-19.But despite his best efforts, Wise, 1st BCT, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), began having a headache after returning from 10 days in the field to prepare for an upcoming rotation to the Joint Readiness Center-Fort Polk, Louisiana. That was July 19.“I thought it was allergies and sinuses,” he said. “I took a hot shower to clear out the sinuses and really didn’t think anything about it.”But as Wise prepared for work the next morning, the headache still lingered.That troubled him, and he was developing a fever.Words he had heard over and over in recent months popped into his head.Although Wise was still in denial that COVID-19 was the cause of his symptoms, he wasn’t going to risk exposing his Soldiers and Family if he did have the virus.“Across the Bastogne Brigade I have been absolutely vigilant about either wearing a mask, hand sanitizer, whatever the case may be, so that ultimately I could not come down with COVID,” Wise said. “But I did.”July 20, instead of reporting to work, Wise drove to the Blanchfield Army Community Hospital COVID-19 Clinic set up outside the Fort Campbell hospital for drive-through testing. Within two hours, he learned he was positive for the virus.And he wasn’t alone.Within a short time of returning from the field, six of the Soldiers who had been in in the field training exercise with him also tested positive for COVID-19. All have now fully recovered.“We had gone out for Bastogne Phoenix in our preparation for JRTC,” Wise said. “Inside of the [tactical operations center], everyone was wearing masks, we were very vigilant and then six of us who were associated with the [tactical operations center] and the brigade footprint there ended up coming back positive for COVID.”Although Wise never developed a cough or shortness of breath, he came down with severe body aches for several days, ran a temperature of just over 100 degrees with a lingering headache that prompted him to get tested in the first place.“I will say the COVID clinic was absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “They told me exactly what was going to happen and they told me exactly when they were going to follow up with me.”Wise had to isolate himself from everyone for two weeks, which he did at his home on post.“I ended up isolating in the master bedroom,” he said. “I told my wife I would use the guest bedroom and she said, ‘You’ve already kind of contaminated this.’ She was like, ‘I’ve got it.’”As hard as it was for him to stay confined, the experience might have been most difficult for his 6-year-old daughter who wanted to give him hugs, but had to settle for helping her mother drop off Gatorade at the door.Wise was lucky because he did not have a severe case that required hospitalization. Now, he is sharing his experience to inform and help others.Fully recovered and no longer contagious, Wise donated plasma to help others who might be fighting COVID-19. He’s also back with a message – one that spoke to him and one he’s been spreading for months.“If you’re not feeling well, don’t risk exposing other teammates to something, because when you only think about yourself and not the rest of the team, that’s when you end up becoming sick and that’s when we put a whole platoon or a whole company on judicious preventive measures because they’ve come in contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive,” Wise said. “We have to remain vigilant, we have to remain disciplined, because at the end of the day the men and women of America are counting on us as an Army. When the nation calls then we need to be ready.”The experience was humbling and frustrating because he had been so disciplined about preventive measures, Wise said.“I was extremely, extremely frustrated when I got the test result back that I was positive,” he said. “Then you feel like a failure because you’re like, I wore the mask, was very disciplined in my actions and I still end up with it. I felt like a failure because as a brigade CSM I feel I need to be able to set the example in every single action for this brigade combat team.”Wise did set an example by getting tested and isolating himself as soon as he had symptoms.As Bastogne begins its rotation at JRTC additional measures have been put into place, he said.About 5,400 troops, including 1st BCT, its enablers, and National Guard and Reserve Soldiers, will take part in the training.“We’ve implemented some additional control measures as we geared up for JRTC so that every time somebody walks into the brigade headquarters they have their temperature taken,” Wise said. “If their temperature exceeds 100, the staff duty informs them to go to Brigade Engineer Battalion right behind headquarters and they are able to be further screened so our whole brigade headquarters doesn’t potentially become exposed.”After the first few days of body aches, Wise spent his time in isolation doing work from home and watching Marvel movies, he said. He is better, though he is still working to regain the level of energy he had before becoming sick.“I’m still not where I was physically because it does take a little bit of time,” Wise said.“I think for the leaders within our formation, they need to be patient if there are Soldiers just coming back who were positive because they may not be where they were before they got COVID. Show a little empathy, give them a little bit of time to get back where they were previously.”