Tag Archives: First Sergeant

What Do You Think

Many years ago, I used to be in the military. I retired from the military almost forty years ago. And, forty years ago, I loved the military. I was not under any delusion about why I was in the military or even why I stayed as long as I did. But, one thing is sure, when I became dissatisfied, I got out.

I went into a specific branch of the military because I did not want to be drafted into the army like the majority of Black people. I beat them to the punch by a few days and while I was in basic training my mother received my draft notice. I was happy for eighteen years, my last two was hell.

As First Sergeant, my last two years saw the change in the military. As the top NCO in my outfit, I felt it more than the men on the outside because I had to deal with the hard change of regulations and ensure my men understood them and adhered to them.

Most of these changes were meant to ensure people had their equal rights applied. There could not be hollering (shouting) at them, grabbing them (assault), in other words, handle with the softest of gloves. It was time for me to go because any one of the people could bring charges against me for hollering at them, etc. which would put me in serious trouble, and twenty years goes down the drain.

Why am I remembering all of this? I was watching television and saw the news about the deployment of military personnel. I also heard some saying they had no notice and it was not right. My question is this, why did they come into the military? Opps…I answered my own question as I think back to when I was in the military. Before I retired to get away from the new military, I talked to a few men that summed it into a neat bow.

I was told that they were there to get an education, to get away from home for a while and to save a little money for later. They did not come into the military to go to war and anything close to that. They wanted to start a family and expected the government to protect and provide for their family. I had a couple of officers tell me almost the same thing.

In my day in the military, it was not like that. We got little pay, very slowly made rank, was roughed up until we got our mess together ( it was expected and no one died but became better because of it) and we never dreamed of having any equal rights except at the toe of the First Sergeant’s boot (just a love tap). I have deployed within a four-hour notice. It was expected and not a mumbling word was heard. Those that were married, and later I was also, schooled their family that at any time the horn would sound and they could be gone for a few days to three months (anything over that is considered a PCS (permanent change of station) except under extreme circumstances).

I still say, like I said when I left the military, the military have gone soft. Then there are echoes of days gone by. I heard somewhere that people are talking about the draft. Well, to dodge the draft you can’t run to Canada now. The President closed that door. What about Mexico? That door is closed also. So, I guess the military is stuck and so are the draft dodgers. Humm…


Cage Rattling

There is a saying that if you want to get someone’s attention, rattle their cage. I rattled the cage of the Executive Director of Imperial Plaza and got a lunch invitation. Since the availability of the Executive Director is scarce to common folk rattling the cage was the only way to get a response. I am suppose to be retired, not being in the middle of administrative squabbles. I want to live in peace but the problems here can not be ignored by me any longer.

Like all of the other times, when I was a manager or supervisor, I was a people person. My people came first and damn what overhead said. Listen to your people (and your bosses) and compromise for the best outcome to benefit all to the best of your ability. Most of the time it would work but on rare occasions it would backfire because of a stubborn higher up. Then, normally, you will find that the higher up has not conveyed the entire story or problem, trying to somehow benefit themselves. Congress is the same, in some ways.

A person will run for office telling you that this or that will be done and it is their priority. Upon being elected to office it’s all about what they want, not what the original bull was all about. I look at congress today and I look at Imperial Plaza and see virtually the same thing. As the saying goes…they are talking out the side of their mouth.

That was one reason, when I was a man-in-charge, I was always with my people and that was for, mainly, a couple reasons. First, the people kept me grounded, informed and always reminded me of where I came from and that I may be back. Second, the people could get information I was not privy to. I always knew what was going on and under no circumstances would I ever reveal where I got the information.

I thought I was retired and could lay back and do whatever whenever. There is no hurry in being retired. However, I was talked into being on the Activities Board, here at Imperial Plaza, and was given a list of who was on the board with me. At the bottom of the paper I noticed my name again and beside that was vice-president. That is like looking at your morning paper and the headline have you elected to congress. That happened to me years ago, when I was in the military. I belonged to the NCOA (Non-Commissioned Officers Association) and was elected vice-president when I was absent. The following year I was President of a sizable chapter that wielded considerable power on base.

I said that to say this. I know what power is. I was a Kennelmaster, Flight Sergeant, First Sergeant, etc. I know you have to be tuned to the people because that is where your power, bread and butter, is. Do not listen to the people and you will eventually fail.