Carrying the Rank

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tim Chacon
  • 62nd Airlfit Wing Public Affairs
On Monday, I along with a few hundred other Airmen put on technical sergeant. The customary congratulations and handshakes welcomed me into the next grade. Along with the "good jobs" I was asked many times "Are you excited?" depending on who asked I would of course say "yes", but when I was being honest I said "no". If it didn't completely confuse people they thought I was joking, but the truth is I'm not.

One reason is it's not the first time I've made this rank. It is the first time I've got to actually wear it though. After losing it the first time two weeks before I sewed on, I understood something. When you "make it" you don't make it, you merely meet the minimum standard to be promoted. It can and will be taken away if you are too stupid to keep it. Making rank is not a lottery you win, it's something you earn everyday not just the day you fill out those bubble sheets.

I'll be honest I smiled a little when the lady at alterations brought my uniforms out and I saw my name next to my new rank, but only for a second.  I quickly reminded myself that just because I am now called a technical sergeant, doesn't mean anything if I don't live up to it.

I know plenty of Airmen have known NCOs who were only NCO's technically and didn't/don't come close to living up to it. I've worked with them, for them and at times probably been one of them.  Though I would like to think my shortcomings have been few and far between, they certainly have not been repeated.

I might wear this new rank now but I certainly haven't earned it yet. Yes I made the cutoff, but I had a three on my second EPR and studied a lot less than I will openly admit.  So I don't feel like it was that much of an accomplishment....yet. 

I am by no means trying to diminish anyone else's hard work.  I know people work very hard to deserve the honor of being promoted. I'm not saying I haven't either, if nothing else I definitely took the long way around.  Two years -four months ago I wasn't sure I would get here at all.

I am just under the belief that whatever work I have done so far is nothing compared to what I have left to do.

As a young Airman and new staff sergeant, I like so many others, have had bad examples for NCO's. Thought they did teach me what I do not want to be. I spent many late nights those first few years on the back porch talking with a fellow Airman (now fellow technical sergeant.) about how things "should be" and how we were going to be so much better than our supervisors.

Am I? I don't know I guess you would have to ask my Airmen on their back porches. I hope I am, otherwise I killed a lot of brain cells trying to figure it out for nothing.
I don't lack enthusiasm about my promotion because I don't value its importance. I'm not excited because I don't know if I'm worthy of it and I haven't done anything with it yet.

As senior airman I asked my command chief how many years it took him to make the rank of chief master sgt. He told me it took him 22 years. Jokingly I asked what took him so long, and said that I was going to make it at 15 years. Like only chief master sergeants can do, he then calmly and quietly put me in my place by saying "You don't make [the rank of] chief when you want it, you earn it when you are ready to carry it." He dropped the mic and walked out, leaving me humbled and impressed.

Obviously those words from the Chief have stuck with me. It is now time to put my money, were my slightly less ignorant mouth is. From day one I've already seen those above me asking my opinion on things they didn't last week and I say bring it on. Let's see what's next.

I won't say congrats to my fellow E-6's at this time because I know some of you wont earn it, but some of you, hopefully the majority of you will. And when you do earn it, you'll know it and you won't need someone who came for the free cake and didn't know your name before to validate your accomplishment. 

However I will say good luck. Good luck carrying it, it only gets harder and heavier from here or so I'm told, what do I know I was just a staff sergeant last week.