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Hello, hello! It’s been a while since I’ve written– ever since I returned to Iowa at the end of March, life has gotten incredibly busy! To give you a quick synopsis of what’s been happening around these parts, I started another college class (International Business— it’s very difficult!), it’s been the “busy season” at my day job, and we adopted a second dog (Ellie.) But before I get into all that, I wanted to recap a much-anticipated event that did not get nearly the attention it deserved: Andrew’s promotion to Staff Sergeant (E-6).
We had been anticipating Andrew’s promotion to Staff Sergeant for over 2 years. He was slated to attend the E-6 promotion board in June 2017 when we were at Fort Knox, but when his surprise Recruiting orders and subsequent PCS occurred, the promotion board was put on hold for a few months so the Recruiting command could decide if he was worthy of being promoted. He passed the promotion board in October 2017, so the next step in earning his Staff Sergeant rocker was attending the Engineer Advanced Leader Course at Fort Leonard Wood. Unfortunately, in Recruiting it’s all but impossible to get a slot for training. If you’re a detail (aka voluntold) Recruiter trying to get a school slot in your real MOS, the odds are even slimmer. As months went by with no school date, we watched other NCOs from Andy’s MOS pass the promotion board, attend ALC, and pick up their 6. It was emotionally grueling for both of us because Andy was chosen for Recruiting (a career-broadening assignment) since he was part of the top 10% of E-5 NCOs, yet at the same time had to wait for his promotion to E-6 because of same broadening assignment that’s supposed to be so helpful in his career. Anywhooo, that’s all I’ll say about that since I’m sure “The Watcher” is probably reading this post 😉
Once he finally attended and graduated ALC, the last step in his promotion was waiting for him to earn enough promotion points. During the time he was at ALC, promotion points for E-5s going to E-6 in his MOS were just 15(!!!) so we felt almost positive he would pick up in January. (For reference, the maximum number of points is usually 798.) So positive, in fact, that when we were in Minneapolis in December for Recruiting’s annual training conference and military ball, I sat with Andy’s First Sergeant and planned out the promotion ceremony at the bar. And then, the next month, the necessary number of points skyrocketed. Andrew was just one point away. Cue more frustration!
At the end of February, we learned that Andrew would finally be promoted to Staff Sergeant effective 1 March. Except, I was in the midst of preparing for an unexpected 3-week trip to Kentucky for Mom’s hip replacement when we learned of Andrew’s promotion and there was no time to plan a promotion ceremony! His leadership “suggested” they do a quick pinning at company training in Waterloo on that Friday before I left for Kentucky, but there was just one problem: I couldn’t make it! Waterloo is a 3-hour roundtrip drive from where we live and there was no way I could leave my full-time job (and use my non-existent vacation time) during the middle of the workday for a 10-minute pinning. Andrew, bless his heart, refuses to be pinned by anyone except his wife unless he’s deployed, for which I am incredibly grateful because I love to be part of important steps in his military career. Instead, immediately after they left Waterloo, Andrew and his coworkers held a “pretend” pinning with me in the Recruiting center on Friday afternoon. You see, it’s not an official pinning ceremony without the Company Commander and First Sergeant present, but they weren’t able to make the 3-hour roundtrip drive to Mason City on a Friday afternoon around 4:30 pm. So, we went on without them so I could have some photos.
Andrew’s center leader quickly read some stuff about Andrew being promoted to Staff Sergeant (but not being promoted by him, because only the CO can do that, so it was more “you’re a Staff Sergeant now, blah blah blah and congrats.”) I ripped off his E-5 rank and slapped on the hard-earned E-6 rank, the other Recruiter took a few photos of us, and then they hurried out of the office because the Army doesn’t work on Friday afternoons.
Andrew, I am so, so proud of you and all of your hard work! Recruiting has been a real “bear” for both of us, but you are giving it your all because you believe so much in what the Army has to offer. I’m so excited for you to lead soldiers when we return to normal Army life– you’re going to be great!