The new chapter
Holding the orders in my hand, I realized I was now a staff sergeant—well, sort of. Joseph Salmon was a staff sergeant, as per the mistype, but the intent was there, by God. It was meant for me, you see?!?!?
I also received a phone call that day. “Where is your packet for BNCOC?” my schools NCO asked.
Normally the Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course is for E6s and is required for promotion to E7—a far, far cry for me. Still, commanders get hammered from higher for not having all of their NCOs with schools completed; so there’s always pressure to get you in and through with these military schools as soon as possible.
“Umm, I’m not sure sergeant,” I said back. “Am I scheduled to go, now?” My slot had been placed on hold since the snafu.
“Yes, you start on Monday.”
“As in THIS Monday? The 12th?”
Wow, being Thursday, I could tell this would take some paperwork finagling.
Three blog posts of things occurred to get my schools packet done on Friday, including a PT test, a sergeant major’s signature, and “standing fast” in the hallway of my company for quite a bit while the training room alphabetized the morning’s PT test results.
Luckily, Fort Hood had an NCO Academy, so getting ready would be minimal. A lot of troops have to travel to another post, bringing with it all manner of additional travel paperwork and tickets and such…no fun. Furthermore, the BNCOC curriculum had undergone the same softening as had our E5 course. No longer do BNCOC students live in a central barracks. It’s a “gentleman’s course,” meaning students return home every day.
That makes a HUGE difference. Our old E5 and E6 courses recreated a basic-training atmosphere. There was yelling, cleaning, rigid silence, rules for eating, etc. It was a bit of an initiation to make you “earn” the new stripes on your collar. That was all gone, supposedly to focus more on teaching rather than hazing.
We would see.
My phase 1 of BNCOC would be three weeks. Phase 2 would require travel to Fort Meade for the job-specific portion of the training. Holy crap! It would be the very first session of required Army training I had ever encountered which would focus on my job. That too would be three weeks.
So here we go, another aspect of Army life to document for you: time at military school.
More to follow. It’s been an interesting week.