Friday, February 09, 2007

Day THREE...Guess who's coming to lunch?

So...I had lunch with someone today I totally did NOT expect to run in to. CSM Gattis, the state Command Sergeant Major.

(For civilian types, that means he is the highest ranking Sergeant in the State of NC. You don't just work your way up to it, you have to be appointed by the governor. It's a leadership position on the STATE level. The only person he answers to is the Adjudant General, who is the top commander for North Carolina)

Turns out there's a conference at the PEC, and there are state CSMs and high-ranking officers from all over the country hanging out here. CSM Gattis recognized me from when he was a 1st Sergeant and later the CSM of my old aviation battalion. We chatted briefly, and he mentioned that he'd come by later in the day to observe our training.

Today was the six-man flag fold. Imagine six people coordinating their movements with nothing more than a twitch of the wrist or signifigant glances to signal one another. There's not much I can say about it except it's extremely challenging. We only ever got up to the point that we could go through the procedure without 'stops' ONE TIME before the day was over. took two hours to walk us through the procedure the first time. The other two teams didn't even manage to get everyone through!!

While the CSM was observing, I was given the opportunity to speak with him some more about the program in NC and express how dedicated so many members of our team are to the passionate we are about what we do...and he was genuinely impressed. While we stood apart from everyone talking about Funeral Honors, and CSM Gattis asked me about my personal feelings about the program. He said he could see I was a much different soldier than the guy I used to be in the Aviation unit and how he knew CSM Jackson would not have let me into the program, much less sent me to school unless I had showed the potential to be a leader. When he shook my hand, he presented me with one of his Coins.

Now...again, for those of you who aren't military, let me explain what a Coin is. A Coin is a medallion with some sort of distincive identification on it for a specific military unit or in some cases, individuals. In most cases, these things are custom ordered and only high-ranking officials have access to them. I've only ever recieved one other coin in my career, and that was from the 10th Mountain Division, for serving with them in Afghanistan. I also was able to acquire a 1st Cavalry Division coin, but that was not for me...the commanding general of the 1st Cav gave me a coin to present to Dorian Britt, the Cadet First Sergeant of the Imani Leadership Academy the year I was deployed, as a reward for being Valedectorian and Class President.

So...yeah. To get the State Sergeant Major's PERSONAL Coin is kind of a big deal.

I'm really loving this job.


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