Once upon a time, there was a salty ass Staff Sergeant who tormented all the soldiers around him. Not a single Private was spared. The soldiers worked all hours of the day and night, ensuring Staff Sergeant always had hot coffee and dip. Staff was known for hazing soldiers, even if it wasn’t ‘acceptable’ anymore. How else would soldiers learn without hours of physical ‘counseling’!?
As the holidays approached, Staff Sergeant told all the E-4s and below they would pull extra duty. Not a single one of them were allowed to take leave. After all, the command staff was gone and someone had to run the military…
As Christmas Eve approached, Staff Sergeant walked into his office and shouted “No one will bother me! If you have a problem, figure it out!” As soon as the door closed, he put his feet on his desk, crossed his arms and sank into his chair for a nap.
His eyelids closed and what seemed like seconds later, a figure appeared. It was the Ghost of Veterans Past. This ghost had a uniform many had not seen in years. The Ghost’s boots were so shiny, Staff could see the dip still in his own teeth.
As Staff examined the soldier in front of him, he noticed the stripes on his rank were upside down. With a specialist shield and a diamond in the middle? Who was this guy? Stolen Valor? No, his uniform looked much older than that. Like something from cavalry days. He even had a sword.
“Who are you and how did you get in my fucking office!?” Staff Sergeant shouted.
The old buffalo soldier stared at him and spit the largest tobacco spit the NCO had ever seen towards Staff’s boots. “Your boots look like shit,” the man said. “I am the First Sergeant of the ghost of veterans past. You’ve got some serious learnin’ to do tonight boy!”
Staff looked at the old man in the eyes and when he did, he shivered at his presence. He hadn’t done that since he was a private looking at his Drill Sergeant for the first time. He could feel the man was serious.
“What did I do?” he barked. “Those soldiers are boot lickers and don’t deserve shit! I was never treated well as a private! Why should I be nice to them!?”
First Sergeant stared deep into Staff Sergeant’s eyes. It instantly took Staff back through all of the NCOs who gave him leadership. Some of the NCOs allowed him to do whatever he wanted, they were pushovers! He reminisced being a private again as he got away with drinking and going to the clubs underage. He was even caught by an NCO and they didn’t say anything! HA!
Then, he was transported to his E-4 mafia days. Man oh man he and his buddies really pulled some ridiculous stunts. He remembered one of his NCOs caught him and his buddies’ shenanigans in the barracks. Instead of permanent extra duty or even reporting him, the NCO verbally counseled him. He would have NEVER let his troops get away with that shit!
Then, he remembered being a newly pinned Sergeant. He was on patrol on deployment and remembered not reporting something that could have been suspicious. The next day another team got ambushed. He went to his NCO scared and worried he would get in trouble. Instead of scolding him, his NCO talked to him at length about reporting suspicious activities, even if he wasn’t positive at the time.
Staff remembered learning quite a lot from that situation. He then remembered being a platoon sergeant and telling himself he would lead his soldiers fairly. How had he gotten so salty and negative?
The First Sergeant looked at him and said “You must be a stern yet compassionate leader. A good NCO is someone who creates balance with their leadership. Your soldiers should look up to you and value your leadership, not fear it.”
With that, First Sergeant pulled his sword and raised it into the air. Staff almost cringed, not sure what was happening. And then his eyes opened.
Staff was back in his office, feet on his desk, arms crossed. He jumped up and slammed open his office door. “Soldiers get your asses in here!”
The soldiers formed up in his office, all of them looking meek and scared. Staff Sergeant put the fattest dip he could pinch in his lip. He smiled at the soldiers and they all braced themselves for the smoke fest about to commence.
“Get your asses out of here and go home,” Staff Sergeant said. The soldiers stared at each other in disbelief. “I SAID get the fuck out of here and go on leave! Sign out roster’s on my desk.”
As the soldiers signed out, he heard one of them peep out “Ghost of Veterans Past bless us, everyone!” Staff Sergeant let out a glorious laugh, shook his head and went on leave himself.