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Promotion Ceremony

Ellsworth AFB, S.D. -- The Commander's Action Line is a forum for the Ellsworth community to make suggestions or voice concerns about Ellsworth directly to Col. Mark Weatherington, 28th Bomb Wing commander. 

QUESTION 

I attended my first base promotion ceremony on 30 Nov 12, and again today, and had mixed feelings regarding the set-up. I enjoy the reading of the induction charge for the NCO promotees; it adds a good dose of decorum. However, I deplore the loss of the tack-on. In an Air Force where impersonal events are on the rise, I felt this ceremony had an assembly line vibe. I've seen the old going aways (that involved condiments) "frowned upon" into extinction. CC's congratulate promotees after they've been given the news from a computer screen, which has taken away any opportunity for a little fun (re: pranks). But primarily, it's taken away the true sense of congratulations, since the CC swings by whenever he's able, out of duty, as opposed to joy in the reaction. Next I fear we'll read the Oath of Enlistment on a computer screen as well, and swear or affirm with a fingerprint.

To return to my main point, I find the loss of the tack-on in front of one's peers to be dismaying. I don't remember the CC's who handed me my certificate; I remember who tacked me on. And while they can still do so at the work center, it's simply more assembly line congratulations. The other side to this is the loss for the individuals doing the tack-on. I find it an honor to be asked; now, I'm indistinguishable, part of the assembly line at work. Also, family was able to participate in their loved ones achievement; now they're a prop in the background picture. If cause for removal is time constraints, simply remove the Airman to Airman promotion recognition. Leave the ceremony for individuals who did something to earn their next stripe, instead of those who simply didn't do something to lose their next stripe.


Col. Mark Weatherington
Col. Mark
Weatherington
  RESPONSE

Thanks for your feedback. During my first year in command, we did not do a wing promotion ceremony and instead left enlisted promotion recognition to the Groups/Squadrons. However, over time a consensus grew to bring back the wing ceremony. When we did this, I asked a group of people to develop a brief, but significant ceremony--and I think they hit the mark. For example, we added the reading of the induction charge for the NCOs, SNCOs and Chiefs to remind others of the responsibilities at each of these tiers. We also added the opportunity for families to attend and to join the member on stage.

This group considered "tacking" of stripes, and decided not to do so for several reasons. First, with as many as 50 (or more) promotees, the tacking would add a significant amount of time to the overall ceremony--time that takes Airmen away from their duties or their families. I anticipate that tacking stripes would triple the time required for the ceremony, if not worse. Second, while I appreciate the symbolism of tacking stripes, this practice has at times led to abuse and even injury.

As you mentioned, tacking of stripes in front of one's peers can still be done in the work center. In fact, the wing's monthly ceremony should not prevent co-workers and squadron mates from offering their own appropriate recognition of an important milestone in an Airman's career.

If you still feel strongly about this issue or if you or anyone else has any suggestions for improving the ceremony, please bring them to Chief Peterson.