Soldiers and Super Heroes

Wash News
In the DMA studio, bringing the news to a global military audience. Photo courtesy of DoD News.

When we think of the word “military”, serious words like discipline and precision come to mind. What probably doesn’t come to mind are words like creative arts and comics. U.S. Army Sergeant Luther Washington embodies all of these words.

At first glance, Washington is your average, talented Broadcast Specialist. He works as a news anchor for Department of Defense News, headquartered on Fort Meade, Maryland. The job requires him to take usually-boring press releases from the Pentagon and repackage them for a military audience. It all happens in front of a camera, under very bright lights.

“It was scary as first. I’d never been on camera, never read a script,” said Washington. “I took a lot of notes and did a lot of practice runs, and I’m doing ok.”

He’s doing more than ok. Washington is widely-considered to be the best anchor in the department. His ease in the lime light and natural speaking rhythm make him the go-to guy for the news. His success, however, is his curse.

“To be honest, it’s not really where I want to be,” he said. “I want to be shooting and editing video. My ultimate goal is to become a filmmaker.”

Washington at his cubicle. Are those super hero Pez dispensers on the left? Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

He laments in private that he’s dying to unleash his creative side. That creativity overflows at his cubicle, where an oasis of colorful action figures adorn every possible space.

“I was the child of a single mom, dad wasn’t around,” Washington said. “My mom worked a lot so I was alone a good amount. So it’d be nighttime and I’d be in the dark, all alone with my flashlight in bed but I had Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men to keep me company.”

Batman watches Washington’s back while he works. Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

A lifetime of reading comics hasn’t made him into a fiction snob, though. He still has fun with the films that inevitably follow, even if they’re not accurate to the source material.

“One of the cool things is he’s into old school and new school,” said Petty Officer Lyle Wilkie, one of Washington’s coworkers. “He can enjoy a film based on a comic and not tear it apart. He’s very knowledgeable but shares it in a positive way.”

Washington displays his favorite comics. Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

For now, a transfer into the Creative Services section of DoD News is out of Washington’s reach, but it may be a smart move for the military to unleash the beast.