That morning at Annapolis reminded me of my sojourn at Ft. Huachuca about ten years ago. I was there to get a refresher course and keep my skills current, and that was it I promised myself. Exercising leadership was not an option, I reasoned, and after all the younger soldiers were adults. They could take care of themselves. I was there to study and move on...NOT!
When I entered the barracks my "sixth sense" and old-fashioned common sense told me the obvious -- it was a Zoo. In the "new Army" rooms alternated male and female. And they could mix it up as long as they kept the room door open. Liquor was also allowed -- soldiers just had to keep it in one room rather than walking in the hall carrying a drink.
OK. Was it up to me to change Dept of Defense policy? -- absolutely not. My strategy was to lay low, keep to myself in my room, and be a grouch so others would leave me alone until a got out of there. Unfortunately I had to wear my rank on my uniform and all the junior enlisted soldiers knew I was a non-commissioned officer (NCO - sergeant).
That was actually good because it meant everyone was fairly polite to me. Rank has its privileges, yet it also carries responsibility. When the Army gives you rank and makes you a leader, responsibility finds you as it did me at Ft. Huachuca.
One particularly raucous Saturday night I put on my headphones to filter out the noise in the hope I could study, but I knew the barracks were out of control. My view is that situations are always "going somewhere." Either they are getting better or worse. Seldom do they remain the same, and I knew those barracks were close to spinning out of control.
Another sergeant who had another stripe (rocker actually) and more time in service was nominally in charge, however, he used weekends to beat feet off post. That meant I was the ranking NCO. As the noise in the hallway reached a crescendo I heard what I had been expecting -- a knock at midnight. I was already getting on my uniform as I opened the door.
A female soldier stood outside and pleaded with me, "Sergeant, I've got a test tomorrow and I can't study because of all the noise. Please do something." She was simple, direct and honest...makes it hard to just stand there and stare.
Let me know if you want me to narrate what happened next. And if you want to know how all that relates to Annapolis, just say the word.