Sunday, December 2, 2012

1SG Gibbs.

In case you want to see a chart: Army Ranks & Insignias

Trevor had been a Sergeant First Class (SFC, E-7) since he was in Kosovo (2008).  He was the Medical Platoon Sergeant for 2-135 Infantry Battalion for the Minnesota Army National Guard (out of Mankato, MN).  He was in that position (since 2006) before he ever had the rank to go along with it.  He was in charge of 12-38 medics, with the help of his Platoon Leader (a First Lieutenant, an officer).  That platoon was part of a company (HHC, or Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 2-135) that included 4 other non-medical platoons (Scouts, Mortars, Fisters, Intel/Headquarters) as well as some other soldiers (officers) in various staff positions.   

A photo of Trevor and me from the 2-135 formal dinner in August (Trevor as a SFC, E-7). Flickr
Trevor heard about a potential promotion opportunity (for First Sergeant, 1SG, E-8) and decided to go for it.  The packet (application, basically) was due on our anniversary, September 26.  A lot of work goes into these packets.  He had to gather all kinds of paperwork and information about his career thus far, letters of recommendation from multiple people in his Chain of Command, etc.  Once he submitted it, he just had to sit back and wait to hear something.  What a relief!

A week or so later, Trevor got an email that he was to report for a promotion board in a few days.  As if getting the packet ready wasn't enough work, this would be even more difficult.  His uniform had to be perfect.  He had to study everything.  The board is essentially an interview in front of 5 Command Sergeants Major (CSM, E-9).  They can ask him anything and everything from regular interview questions (leadership style, working under pressure, etc.) to Army stuff (his career/experience, Army regulations, Soldier's Creed, NCO Creed, anything really) and more.  He asked for tips and suggestions from fellow soldiers.  I drilled him in a mock interview.  He recited Creeds/Ethos/Values over and over.  He got a haircut and tweaked his uniform all morning.  This was the biggest interview/board he had ever had.  Thankfully, when Trevor called me afterwards, he actually said it went well.  What a relief again!  Except this time he was told he wouldn't hear anything until the end of November.

So, November 12 rolled around and Trevor got the official memo via email.  Subject: Selected.  Attached was a memo:  "On behalf of the Senior Enlisted Management Board I would like to congratulate you on your selection of First Sergeant."  Woah.  The promotion would take effect November 15.

The first drill weekend following the official date of rank (promotion date), Trevor drilled with his old unit, 2-135 in Mankato, so he could be pinned with his new rank by them.  The alternative would have been to be pinned by his new unit and people he didn't know.  That would have been just fine, but promotions are a big deal and it was important to him to be pinned by the unit he has called home for so long.

His new rank comes with a new position.  First Sergeant is both a rank (E-8) and a position within a unit.  As First Sergeant, Trevor is in charge of the enlisted side of the company, working directly with/under the company commander (an officer).  Specifically, he is now in charge of three platoons and has a hand in much of the overall unit operations.  His new unit is a whole medical unit (C Co 134 BSB out of Cottage Grove, MN), so those three platoons have different functions within the unit (medical treatment, ambulance, and company headquarters).   Here's another chart to show the structure of a unit-usually when people say unit, they mean company.  Structure can vary somewhat, but this is generally what it looks like.

 Photo of Trevor and me at the C Co 134 BSB formal dinner (Trevor as a 1SG, E-8) Flickr

What better way to be welcomed into a new unit than to go for their "Dining Out" formal dinner?  We've both been to a couple of these types of dinners, but this one was a little different.  It was a new unit with a new rank and position.  With that, we became part of the "official party" as they call it and were seated at the head table.  The rest of the company had to stand at attention when we came in/went out as a group.  We had a head table at our wedding, but even then we weren't higher up on risers like we were at this dinner.  It was like we were on display, a rather unique and uncomfortable experience.  Trevor introduced the guest speaker, CSM Kallberg, who gave a great speech.  She spoke about the perception of the military and troops, the importance of families who support their service members, working hard and dreaming big, and serving our communities on a smaller scale in addition to serving our country as a whole.  She is also married to a soldier and they have been through 6 deployments between the two of them in 10 years of marriage, sometimes back to back and hardly seeing each other.  She flat out said the harder job is being the spouse back home.  I'm not big on comparing and I think everyone involved in a deployment has a difficult and important job to do, but I greatly appreciated the fact that she even acknowledged the difficulties of being the one "left behind."  The dinner was delicious, we both met a lot of people and even saw a few familiar faces.  

 Trevor and 1LT (O-2) Williams (formerly a SPC, E-4, in Trevor's 2-135 medical platoon) Flickr

It was a great night and a great way for Trevor to start off with a new unit.  He's very excited about this opportunity and is already working on planning for the future with them to make it the best experience possible for everyone.  I can already tell it's time for Trevor to get down to business in the new position-the emails and phone calls have increased.  My favorite are the calls that go right through supper time.  All part of the job, I know, and honestly I'm quite used to it by now!  


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