So there I was at my weekly Civil Air Patrol meeting. Now I joined way back in 2001. I’ve been doing this for going on five years now. I have had many wonderful experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I have ridden in a KC-135 while it refueled a squadron of F-16s high over the Arizona desert; and gotten up close and personal with and F-117 Nighthawk(Stealth Fighter), and have done many other things. I am proud to wear the uniform of the USAF Auxiliary and will continue to wear for as long as I am able. But I digress.
So there I am, preparing Tango Flight[Equivalent of a platoon.] for a big inspection in a couple of weeks. Tango Flight is my flight. I am their Flight Commander and I am responsible for turning them into outstanding Cadets. I honestly love my job too. I love watching my cadets go from being raw FNG’s to being competent cadets in the greatest unit in the whole of the Civil Air Patrol, Captain Jay Weinsoff Cadet Squadron 3. It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of this fine institution. But still I digress.
Again, here I am watching a few NCOs-in-training drill my flight around and offering them advice so as to help them along their path to becoming a fine NCO and leader. As I go about my business, our First Sergeant happens to pop up beside me. I greet him and shake his hand because we are good friends and have been through quite a bit together. We were both working on earning our General Billy Mitchell Awards and had so far completed the exam and physical fitness requirements. all we had left to do was take our Promotion Review Boards(PRB). Well he inquires of me, “Would you like to take your PRB tonight?”
I am dumbfounded at his question. I was not as prepared as I thought I should be and I had not even gotten around to arranging it for the next, what with my schedule full with trainign and what not. So we, the 1stSgt. and I, dash over to our CO, a Cadet Major in all of his glory, and he asks me the same question I had just been asked. I was still in quite a bit of shock and let slip something along the lines of “Oh, crud. . . .”, but in rougher language mind you. Well, my CO informs me that I either take it tonight, or wait indefinitely until all participating parties can be arranged again. I inform him that I’ll do it tonight; a “full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes!” moment if I have ever had one. So I return to my flight until it is deemed time to proceed with my KeelhaulingPRB. While I stand and wait, I go over my uniform and make doubly sure it is up to standards. I also wait and worry. I was so anxious I thought I was going to vomit, but it turned I just had to relieve myself. Slowly the minutes pass until it is time to bring my flight inside of our offices(the base messhall) for a class on whatnot; the details being foggy as I spent most of my energy worrying about my PRB. Until I was informed that there may not be enough time to administer the floggingPRB tonight.
“WHAT! You mean I spent all this time worrying and I can’t even do it?!!” was my reply, naturally. At this point I have gone from fingernail-biting anxiety to absolute rage. How Dare They! So after the class is over I calmly ask the senior member of the board, if in fact he could find it in his heart and schedule to still proceed with my PRB this evening. At this point I could give you the short answer, but that wouldn’t be any fun now would it? He said yes and we made haste to prepare for the grilling that would soon commence. I stood outside the dorrway to the room I was to be interviewed in and took many a deep breath. Finally, I was summoned in. I reported smartly — to the wrong person. Oh sweet Jesus, I must be the biggest fool ever. Oh, well at least try to salvage what you can because this ship is going to sink fast. So they asked me a few questions and I stumbled and tripped over my tongue answering some of the easiest questions ever, like what it your current rank and what award are you doing this for. They then asked me to have a seat, I guess to make it easier for them to roast me over na open flame. Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?, I thought to myself. I had no idea they were going to turn the heat up a little more. They then proceeded to the harder questions and had me sweating a river. They asked me everything they could think of, and I responded as best I could. After they ran out of ideas, I thanked them for their time and excused myself from the room and walked out feeling dejected. I thought I had bombed it it, but I wasn’t about to show it. No, not me; not the rough, tough, Cadet Chief Master Sergeant who drill, lead, and swear with the best of them. Nope, I wasn’t going to do it. I wasn’t going to show how bad I felt inside. But hey, at least I went down swinging and that’s what counts and I’d always get a second shot.
So I finished out the meeting and wandered over to one of the members of the board, and asked him how I had done. Well we had a nice long discussion on what I could have done better and what to do in the future. And then he told me something wonderful. You wanna know what it is? Of course you do. He told me I had passed and that I had earned my Mitchell Award and that next week I will be promoted from Cadet Chief Master Sergeant(*sniffle*) to Cadet Second Lieutenant.