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Shake and Bake Sergeants of Vietnam

This was an interesting subject in history during the Vietnam War and it hit pretty close to home. As combat losses mounted for U.S. Forces during the war there became a shortage of men even though the draft was fully in effect. The shortage hit the non commissioned officer corps (NCO) especially, for NCO'S were the backbone leadership of the military. President Johnson refused to deploy the reserve and national guard to supplement active duty forces in Vietnam so the Army created the Non Commissioned Officer Program to meet the demand for NCO'S on the battlefields of Vietnam. Similar to Officer Candidate School, NCOCC was intense training, Candidates were selected for the NCO school after completing basic training and advanced individual training. Trainees were trained to lead fire teams, squads, and platoons as NCO's. After AIT, trainees went through a 12 week tactical training course mostly in infantry training and then 9 weeks of on the job training as drill instructors. After completion of the course, most graduates became E-5 Sergeants. Once in Vietnam, the graduates of the new program became resented by career soldiers who it took years to put on the three stripes of Sergeant. Career soldiers named the graduates "instant NCO'S or "Shake and Bake". However, most Shake and Bake sergeants became well respected leaders as they earned their time on the battlefield and the NCO Program became a success graduating about 35,000 new sergeants.


My father, Dave Krug, was one of the graduates of the NCO program. Drafted in 1969, he went to basic training at Fort Benning, GA, in April 1969. After advanced infantry training, Dave went through Airborne school and the NCO school also at Fort Benning. He completed the program in September 1969 then spent three months at Fort Gordon, Georgia as a drill instructor. In January 1970, Dave deployed as a "Shake and Bake" Sergeant and was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Division in the Central Highlands. Dave led a squad of 8 men during his time with the 173rd. Unfortunately, he was wounded by shrapnel in his knee in April 1970 and was done for the war. He recuperated in Japan for the rest of his Vietnam time.


The instant NCO's of Vietnam was a successful program and the program stopped in 1972 but it helped form the training for what NCO's go through today in their leadership training. Next up on DMV unplugged is a description of the thesis I just completed for my masters in history. The subject is Joint operations of the United States Army and Navy on the Potomac River during the American Civil War. Thanks for your time.




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