Four members of the six-member panel: Command Sgt. Maj. Christine, CSM Livolsi, CSM Dowling and CSM Worley. Not pictured 1st Sgt. Madonna and 1SG Williard.
Most of the day on Sunday's drill I was getting ready for or decompressing after the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade NCO of the Year selection board. My company asked me to participate three weeks ago. The sergeant who was their first pick had something wrong with his paperwork, so I was filling the space. Still, I was happy to be the backup choice in a competition for NCO of the Year.
Then I got the study guides. Wow! To be the Soldier/NCO of the Year you have to know soooooooooooo much stuff!!!
I tried to study on the train back and forth to work, but I had work to do also. And there was so much to learn, I would have had to take vacation to learn a tenth of it.
Each CSM and 1SG asked me three questions in each of three categories. The answers they wanted were specific: five kinds of counseling, three types of judicial punishment, four reasons a soldier can be reduced in rank, six step of immediate action in the event of a misfire with an M16 rifle, and so on. I correctly answered less than a third, partially answered more.
Two categories I was perfect: current events and Army history. Current events is not scored. But at least I aced something. Later at least a dozen of my friends said the reason I aced the history is because I served with General Custer.
It was stressful being in front of the board. I did not study enough and I did not like missing the questions.
I talked to CSM Christine later in the evening and he said that the best candidates devote significant time to preparation. He said, "With a full-time job and all your kids, I don't see how you could have had time to prepare." Clearly I did not. And it was kind of him to let me know he knew that.
But it was fun to see first hand how tough these boards are, and to see how well I could do.