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Mike's Adventures in Field Training

Part 6 - My Leadership

Since everyone is there to be an officer, one of the important parts of field training is leadership.  In order to evaluate how everyone did as a leader, everyone gets a chance to be flight, squadron, or group commander.  I was picked to be flight commander in week 3.

As I have said before, every time a member of the flight gets a demerit, the flight commander gets one also, so I worked to make sure no one got gigged on their uniforms, rooms, or anything else.  I was doing a pretty good job of staying clear of demerits, but as I have said before, it is a no-win situation.

One of our rules was that we had to form up in formation and march as a flight everywhere we went.  The other rule is that we must never be late for an appointment.

So, one day we are at a briefing at the Officers' Club.  It ends at 12:58.  We are supposed to be at a meeting three blocks away at 1:00.  There was no way I could get the flight formed up, march over, and fall out into the other building in the two minutes we had.  So, I was in the no-win situation.  How did I handle it?  I told everyone to fall out, run to the other building, and fall into the classroom.  So, we all go running across the parade ground and down the street and into the building like chickens with our heads cut off, but we were all in our seats by 1:00.  Except for me - the FTO called me aside to give me five demerits for not marching in formation.  But the flip side is this - had I marched them over there, the entire flight would have gotten five demerits for being late.  So, either way, I was going to get demerits.  What I did was take them so the rest of the flight didn't have to.

But, the lesson I learned that day has always stuck with me - in the choice between looking cool and getting the job done, I always take getting the job done.

But, I never really got much of a chance to show real leadership other than that.  Since we were at the end of week three, everyone had the idea of how things were supposed to go, so the flight was running like a well oiled machine. One of the things we did was "spirit missions"; I organized the flight into teams that would sneak out of our rooms and hang posters about our flight all over the barracks.  (It became clear sometime in week 2 that we were now expected to try to do things like this at night.  The idea was that one cadet risking everything to cheer on his flight with some morale boosting messages was the most loyal and ultimate team player.)  Every night we did this, and the CTOs kept trying to catch us.  One night they almost caught us.

While I was on CCQ duty, I took the opportunity to check out the building.  I found a staircase that went downstairs to a locked door.  Everyone knew that the staircase went nowhere, so everyone just kind of ignored it.  But, as a result, I thought it would be a perfect hiding spot.

So one night, we are hanging posters in the hall, and we saw a flashlight shine down the hall.  We took off running.  The CTOs shouted at us and came running after us.  One of the guys and I went down the staircase to the dead end, the others went the other direction.  So there we were - sitting by the locked door at a dead end.  We knew that if the CTOs came down the stairs we would have nowhere to go.  Suddenly, one of the CTOs came to the top of the staircase, and the other asked him what he was doing.

"Maybe they're down there," he said.

"Why would they go there?  That's a dead end.  They're not that stupid," the other guy replied.  Ah, but we were that stupid.  Then they left.  (Oh, and the other guys got caught hiding in someone else's closet.)

One of the best spirit missions I did was with the "Threat of the Day".  We had a bulletin board outside of the cafeteria that we were expected to memorize everyday.  One of the items on there was the "Threat of the Day," which was a piece of Soviet military hardware, and we were expected to memorize the name, NATO code word, range, dimensions, and other useless stuff about it.

We used to sneak out at night to memorize the next day's information, but one night I decided to replace the Threat of the Day with my socks that I wore for the days throughout survival, along with a small slip of paper that read "Plattsburgh I Biological Warfare".  It was a minor victory...

The boardA real biological warfare threat - my survival socks
Talk about a real "threat" - how about my socks that hadn't been washed for several days?!

Next: Part 7 - Columbus