ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – When Chief Warrant Officer 2 Deangello Wiggins was growing up in Virginia, he knew he wanted more from life. In high school, he had the opportunity to talk to an Army recruiter who told him about the benefits the Army offered. Wiggins was excited for the opportunity to leave his hometown and serve his country, and the next thing he knew, he was off to Basic Combat Training, a ten-week introduction to the U.S. Army required of all new enlisted Soldiers.
BCT builds a robust foundation for Soldiers beginning their Army journey by pushing them to exceed their perceived limits. By graduation, Soldiers will have built their confidence, broken barriers, and developed both mentally and physically.
Wiggins arrived at BCT at Fort Jackson, S.C. in 2007, during the height of the Iraq and Afghan Wars. Although he was motivated and believed he was ready for the structure and discipline of BCT, Wiggins struggled.
“When I first came into basic training, it was a very hard transition for me. A great deal of it was the fear of the unknown and obviously leaving my family during a time of war,” he said. “During that transition a lot of things went wrong; I would mess my uniform up, I would wake up late, but worse of all, I left my weapon on fire.”
After five weeks of BCT and numerous counselings, Wiggins’ drill sergeant made the decision to send him back to week one, known as recycling. A drill sergeant’s goal during BCT is to get the best out of everyone by creating a foundation for Soldiers to reach their full potential, and Wiggins’ drill sergeant believed that restarting BCT would help Wiggins ultimately achieve this.
Drill sergeants are dedicated to helping Soldiers succeed in basic training, even if they are recycled, and about 90% of candidates successfully complete basic training.
Wiggins embraced this setback as an opportunity for improvement, determined not to let it hinder his progress. “No matter how difficult it was to see my other friends in the other class when they would walk pass me, I held my head high,” he said. “It was truly tough going through every event again, but I managed and stayed motivated.”
Instead of letting this trial tear him down, Wiggins used it as motivation. He was determined to complete BCT and serve his country. “In a lot of ways this would inspire me to embody the ‘Can Do’ attitude, along with ‘Be All You Can Be’ because it showed myself that I can do anything…no matter how difficult the odds were,” he proudly expressed. “One should never let one roadblock hold them back from what they are trying to accomplish.”
Ten weeks later, Wiggins graduated BCT and went on to his first duty location at Fort Carson, Colorado. “From then on, I've been extremely focused on being a Soldier, being a good leader, and doing the best I can.”
Today, Wiggins has maintained his “Be All You Can Be” attitude through his service at U.S. Army Sustainment Command, his role as a husband and father, and through his own creative endeavors.
The Army’s motto of “Be All You Can Be” signifies limitless potential for Soldiers. The Army encourages Soldiers to be ambitious, curious, bold, prepared, adventurous, inspired, and empowered. To Wiggins, the motto means “giving 100% of everything you have.”
“When I hear those words, I immediately think of standing tall, standing in front of the American flag, being a solid Soldier, always doing the right thing, always being honest, and just standing for something,” he said of the Army’s motto.
Dispelling the misconception of losing one’s identity or family time in the Army, Wiggins has thrived in the Army and at ASC, finding a balance between work and family life. This balance has allowed him to spend more time with his wife and three sons as well as pursue his creative endeavors, leading to the publication of his first book. “ASC has provided me with the time to enjoy my family and work on learning the job. My past jobs have always been more of a sprint, this job is more of a marathon.”
Wiggins’ first duty station, Fort Carson, helped spark his creativity to write a romantic thriller novel. “I wanted to capture the ambience of that area, the enamoring views of the mountains, the wild west sort of sensation really made me feel like I should work to put a book together. I always wanted to write, so why not start on it with an area that felt inviting and majestic.”
Serving in the Army has influenced his writing in other ways too. “I have used some situations dealing with relationships that I have seen in the Army, as well as some of the tribulations of the day to day have provided some inspiration for writing the book.”
Wiggins was inspired by the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage, and further explored the value of loyalty in his book.
“I wanted to incorporate that aspect within the relationships in my book to have conversations about them after people read the book. It also can make others look at their relationship and see what they may think is the foundation of theirs,” he said. “What I have learned about loyalty from my time in the Army is that you must commit to something. In the Army’s case, it’s about committing to being a Soldier, to being a leader, and a mentor.”
At ASC, Wiggins serves as a mobility officer in the Transportation Readiness Directorate where he oversees two non commissioned officers and interprets Army regulation governing transportation.
“My job consists of interpretation of the Installations Logistics Baseline Services, Arrival Departure Air Control Group Functional Area, Presidential Drawdown Assistance, and Container Management,” he explained of his role at ASC.
Wiggins is grateful for his time at ASC because it has given him the opportunity to grow as a Soldier. “Being here has opened my eyes to the sustainment enterprise and a very different perspective of how we support the warfighter,” he said. “I am dealing with aspects of my job that I haven’t dealt with before: Funding, doctrine updates, and articulation of policy. These are tasks that I would touch on in previous units, but not truly expand on at the lower level.”
Reflecting on his Army journey and BCT struggles 16 years ago, Wiggins recognizes the positive impact the Army has had on his life. “Everything good that has happened in my life, its because of the Army,” he said. “I wouldn't have my wife. I wouldn’t have my family. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to college, wouldn’t have had opportunity to serve overseas. A lot of my identity is from the Army.”
He encourages others who want more from life to consider joining the Army. “With the Army you have job security, they put a uniform on your back, they give you a place to stay, they give you food. I mean, there's a lot of benefits to the Army,” he said.
Learn how you too can Be All You Can Be at https://www.goarmy.com.