i know that many of you have literally been holding your breath since i mentioned that i was up for the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Month. i studied. i did two practice boards. i cleaned my gear. i blogged about it. i stopped caring 3 days ago.
that last bit of information was the most important for me. instead of staying up for 5 days straight, i just decided that i knew enough not to get laughed at and figured i would wing the rest. to tell you a little bit about boards, they are required for advancement while serving on active duty. you get 'promotion points' for them, which, much like an arcade, can be redeemed for sweet prizes. in the national guard, the best-case scenario is that you walk out of the board smiling and maybe get a piece of paper saying that youre an awesome dude.
to me, the most interesting part of studying for the board was finding out just how vast the information the army compiles is. every piece of paper has a Department of the Army (DA) form number, and every manual has an appropriate Field Manual (FM) number. memorizing appropriate form numbers, manual titles, training plans, sub-categories of silly details. i can honestly tell you the main idea of 99% of the stuff, but cant recite it verbatim. if there are seven steps to _______, i will remember 4 and they will be out of order. i skip parts that i deem 'silly' (what is the definition of 'motivation?' who cares, it's when people are happy and shit. next question.) and move on to things that interest me (is that episode of 30 rock done downloading?).
there were a total of 8 people going to the board today, four soldiers and four NCOs. the soldiers went first while i worked on my hand and neck tan outside. two and a half hours later, i was up. i wish that i hadnt had to turn in my Nerves of Steel (FM 17-10) at the end of my first tour. i took a deep breath and remembered that i was pretty much just there for fun. i was risking nothing and had nothing to gain.
believe it or not, there is actually an army procedure for knocking on the door before entering a board. i did all of the little stuff right and was told to take a seat and 'relax,' which means that i was allowed to sit with my feet up to 12 inches apart, sitting up straight, with my hands kept on my knees. i was very relaxed and doing really well when, out of nowhere, the board started. i relied heavily on my army training in the lethal field of Sergeant in Charge of Total and Utter Bullshit, and before i knew it, i was walking out the door.
realizing it was over, i let the iraqi sun heat up my armor and face. smiling, i walked back to my room and promptly passed out. this was the last real hurdle of my army career, and i didnt let myself down.
recap: board today, the army is an arcade, DA form 23101, stress-free