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I started this blog to keep in touch with my family and friends during my time attending Commissioned Officer Training (COT) and the Judge Advocate Staff Officer Course (JASOC) at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Now I'm done with training and back in the "real" world, but I'll keep updating this blog with any interesting developments from my JAG career.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Week 2 (Days 11-12): Flight of the Week!

It feels like I’ve been here for months already.  But it’s only been two weeks.  We truly have been inundated with work—the daily workload has been really heavy.  It may just be that law school was so long ago, but I can’t imagine that I ever worked as hard at school.  Every minute of the day is dedicated to something and sleep is way down on the priority list.  The only comparison I can think of is being in trial mode at work.
But we got some payoff, finally.  At the end of this week (week two) we had our first hall call.  During hall call, the squadrons get together and dole out awards for academic flight of the week (FOW) (the flight with the highest average academic score in the squadron), athletic FOW (the flight with the highest athletic score in the squadron) and overall FOW.  Then all three squadrons (nine flights) get together and awards are given for the same positions, but this time for the flights that had the best score of all flights in the class.
So our hall call started with the Guardians squadron – flights Delta, Echo and Foxtrot.  We filed into a small auditorium with our flight commanders and squadron commander.  Together we did the Guardians chant, which is pretty awesome.  Each squadron has a chant that they do to pump up the squadron, and Guardians have the best.  (The other flights are the Falcons and the Griffins.)  Here’s how it goes:
GUARDIANS!  (Initiator)
Called to serve, called to fight
Called to flex our nation’s might
Strike our foes ‘til none remain
Freedom here solely reigns

GUARDIANS! (Initiator)
Draw your sword, kill the horde
MEET YOUR DEATH! (at the top of your lungs)
Then we each did our own flight chant.  This is something we had to make up on our own.  Unfortunately, Echo flight didn’t have its act together on that one.  Delta gave a good one.  We kind of stumbled through ours.  But Foxtrot didn’t even have a chant, so at least we looked better than they did.  After all that, everyone in the room was loose and excited.  Well, at least Echo flight was.  We knew we had a chance at some awards.
The academic FOW award was determined by each flight’s performance on the first test we had—the one dealing with knowledge of the OTSMAN.  None of us had failed, so we were in good shape.  The athletic portion was determined by our performance on the physical fitness baseline (PFB).  We had three failures (sub-75) scores, so I was less confident about that one.  But we also had three or four excellent scores (above 90), including mine, so it seemed possible to even out and steal away overall FOW.
Our squadron commander gave the flights a pep talk.  Then he picked up a small statue of a knight.  That was the award for academic FOW.  It was a dinky little thing, about 16 inches tall and likely made of tin, but we all wanted it.  He asked the flights who they thought would get it.  Everyone in our flight hooted, shouting “ECHO!” or “E-Flight!”  There was a smattering of noise from Delta and Foxtrot, but it was halfhearted.  I think the word had gotten out that we did pretty well, so they weren’t feeling too confident.
Sure enough, we took it home.  It was an incredible feeling to have that statue handed to us and get some recognition for the hard work we’d put in.  It’s a small thing, really – but under the circumstances, in that environment, it was huge.  Echo flight was on the map.
Next was the award for athletic FOW.  When asked who we thought would get it, Echo made some noise, but like Delta and Foxtrot before us, it was a halfhearted attempt at sounding confident.  Sure enough, Foxtrot took the prize—a large sword (dull, of course).

So we were slightly disappointed. 
Then came time for overall FOW.  We knew we had a shot because we’d won academic FOW, but our athletic scores needed to be good enough to overcome Foxtrot.  And Delta could have come in second to us in academics and second to Foxtrot in athletics, but still pull out overall FOW.
We burst into shouts and cheers when the squadron commander said we’d won it.  I jumped out of my seat and pumped my fist in the air.  The clapping of high-fives reverberated around me.  It was a huge validation of our effort in the first week we’ve been here.  We were the best flight in the Guardians squadron.  The next question was whether we could compete for overall honor flight of the entire class.
Flushed with excitement, we moved from our small auditorium to the largest auditorium on campus (Boyd) to meet up with the other squadrons.  Once there, the squadrons took turns trying to out-do each other with their chants.  We won that battle.  We simply have the best chant, hands down.  Then it came time for awards.  The Assistant Director of Operations. Capt Swavely, addressed  us.  He said that in all the time he’s been a part of the COT program, he had never seen something like this before.  Two flights had tied for overall academic FOW.  All of us in Echo Flight held our breath.  The winners were Hotel flight and . . . Echo flight!  We all leapt out of our chairs.  Shouts, cheers and high-fives abounded.  To our right we heard Hotel flight celebrating just as we were.  When the ruckus died down, our guide got up, walked to the front of the room, saluted Lt Col Ackerman (the Director of Operations of COT), raised the guidon, and then brought it down so that it was parallel with the floor.  Lt Col Ackerman affixed a white pennant to the end with black letters reading “Academic Flight Week #1.”  We all beamed.
We knew we didn’t have a chance at athletic FOW, so we just watched while another flight (Golf) picked it up.  Then came the big question:  was our athletic score enough to launch us into overall honor flight for week one?  Or was Hotel’s better?  And maybe Golf had done enough academically to take the overall spot.
We were crushed.  Hotel was honor flight for week one.  We later learned that only .014 of a point separated our overall score from Hotel’s score.  And we also suspected that the person counting Father John’s scores on the PFB had done so incorrectly.  It was frustrating to think that had we collectively answered just one more question right, or done one more pushup, or ran twenty seconds faster, we’d have been honor flight.  But those are the breaks.  And we were happy with our performance.

I've been light on pictures so far so I'll try to include more.  Here are some:

These are all of the books we have to read.  Ugh.

This is the emblem for the 23 Air Force Training Squadron (of which OTS is a part)

This is the board showing the honors/awards for week one.  Youe can see our tie with
Hotel on the bottom left.

This is where we store our guidons when not marching with them.  Ours is obscured but you can see the top of the white pennant we received for being overall academic flight of the week for week one.

This cool plaque states some of the history of the Officer Training School.

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