22 August 2014

Kissing up to the Master Sergeant

He's got "master" in his title, after all.

Prior to my first deployment, to Kosovo, then-SFC Paul Wade presented his vision for our unit.

"My job is to make sure these guys have fun," he declared as his enthusiastic and semi-well-behaved German Shepherd prowled the room during a Family Readiness orientation before we deployed.

And fun we had. Our time in Kosovo was no picnic, but we made it count.

As many Soldiers are fond of saying, "we work hard and play hard." For nine months our seven-man section met resistance from the command staff, but still managed to produced a 30-plus-page monthly task force magazine, which required the management of printing contracts off base; produced 11 video magazines and distributed fully-functioning DVDs to the task force; Established one of the first Army unit YouTube channels; developed and managed a Pleistocene-age intranet site; produced a 20-minute end-of-tour video, the likes of which had never before been conceived by a brigade-level element; and took care of the countless command photo-ops and "hooah" videos that always fall to any public affairs unit.

But our NCOIC made sure we had fun. So we had barbecues. We played volleyball (poorly). We met new people and new units. We got creative with our photography and video-making. We visited historic sites and hiked mountains. We had snowball fights. We ate on the economy-- sometimes it was good, sometimes not so much.

More than anything was the comraderie developed from small, but meaningful, interactions every day. Hanging out at chow, joking around about a mission, that kind of stuff. Wade had a penchant for making fun of me in an exaggerated Mr. Peabody voice as he pushed up his notional spectacles. When we started to guffaw, he'd put his monologue into high gear until we split at the seams from laughter.

All of these morale-building efforts took, well, effort. They didn't just happen. Someone had to make sure we had fun. That someone was SFC Wade.

I'd put his photography, writing, and graphic design skills up there with anyone's in the Army. But I'd put his capacity for having amd making fun second to none.

He is now a master sergeant, and sits in an office most of the time, I presume. I get his Facebook updates, and it looks like he is still committed to the f-word.

When all is said and done, all sentient Soldiers with the capacity to emote (so you can omit most light colonels and above), hold on to a set of memories from deployed life that includes friends made and good times had. Yeah, we worked. That work probably made an impact. But the real impact on me and most junior Soldiers was the fun.

Thanks, Master Sergeant.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps, Wade passed the baton to you. Maybe it's time for you to bring out the fun during this deployment :). I've seen the photos. The scenery there is not as fun, circumstances are even less fun, compared to Kosovo. Yet, fun can still be achieved in the most mundane places. Keep at it and you'll find it.