Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Student Company Screws with Soldiers on the Final Day at Fort Meade

Today began like every day, with my alarm going off at 4:10 a.m.  But this was my last day of school with no official duties except out processing and graduation.

At 4:50 a.m. we were in formation.  When the rest of company formed up for PT, we moved to the back of the formation and were dismissed.  Out processing did not open until 7:30 a.m. We got up, went to formation, stood for 15 minutes and were dismissed.  Why did we get up?  Only the student company leadership could explain that.

At Noon we went to the graduation room at the DINFOS building.  The ceremony started at 1:25 p.m. but we arrived at noon for award ceremonies for three of the four services represented in our 17-person class.  Graduation was a class A dress uniform ceremony and the Army was the majority, with nine of the 17 graduates.  We had no ceremony.

The six Air Force graduates got pinned with their skill badge.  They had a half-dozen Air Force cadre looking on.  The lone Coast Guardsman got promoted and got his skill rating.  He had most of the Coast Guard cadre up front for his ceremony.  The lone Marine had a member of his cadre there and the Marine in our class is staying at Fort Meade for an advanced school.

No one from the Army was scheduled to be there.  One of the civilian instructors said the Army was just the crowd to applaud for the other services.  Then a few minutes before the ceremony, the Army detachment First Sergeant showed up in camouflage uniform.  My first thought was, 'Imagine how the he would have exploded if one of us showed up for a class A formation in camo!"

He said he was busy.  I am sure that would have excused any of us, NOT!  

Then he hurriedly handed out two awards.  One was a certificate to our class leader.  While handing Ben Simon the certificate, the 1st Sgt. mentioned Ben had scored 312 on the fitness test. Then the 1st Sgt. gave a coin to Ken Edel for running the Army Ten Miler.  We all looked at each other with the WTF look we often share about the Student Company.  Sitting next to Ben were two more soldiers who got PT Awards.  In fact the three soldiers in that room with PT awards were the top scorers among more than 100 soldiers in the student company.  Also, with Ben and Ken up front, the 1st Sgt. called up two of the three student leaders in our group.  The third, Grace Pak, was also a squad leader.  And was not mentioned.

Then the 1st Sgt. left.  We had the ceremony.  Our company commander showed up to shake our hands at the end of the ceremony.  He was also wearing camouflage.  Our commander is a very long winded public speaker.  He once spoke to us at considerable length about the Army value Respect.  Hard to forget that when he also shows up to a class A formation in utility uniform.

With certificates in hand, we went back to the student detachment to sign out.  The commander and 1st Sgt. had both been to the ceremony and had to know it would be over at about 2:15 p.m.  Several soldiers had flights to catch.  The three of us who arrived first began to process out then found out we could not.

The entire student company cadre had a 2:30 p.m. meeting that would last an hour.  No, they could not be interrupted for out processing.  Why would they schedule a meeting just when the students were arriving to sign out?  

I thanked God that I did not have a plane to catch and left.  Thinking there would be more screw ups and knowing that I could not beat the traffic out of Baltimore, I rode my bike for two hours.  I came back at five and still had to wait for paperwork.  Eventually, our platoon sergeant took my email and said my final papers would be sent to me.  

When I left, Chris Perkey was still waiting for a leave form.  He is active duty and needs the paperwork in his hand.  

Good bye student company.  I won't miss you.  

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