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#21 [url]

Sep 26 11 3:42 AM

Well to b honest we haven't considered using the spec 4 rank so far. I think bob has mention using it this yr but i think a little research & some help off Dave & Rolando would be handy here.

The UKAirCav motto:- Always making the best of a bad situation since 2004

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#23 [url]

Sep 26 11 4:48 AM

well,on a serious note!,the specialist grade I belive this is what you would bring to the service in a technical skill earned in civillian life/trade that is of use to the Army.
I.E, telecomuntions, mechanic,Electrician,Medical, Chief,etc,or has a 4 year qualification in another specific field.
These specialist ranks were created to reward personnel with higher degrees of experience and technical knowledge.

The Official SPC Grade is defined as:
Someone able to manage other enlisted Soldiers of lower rank. Has served a minimum of two years and has attended a specific training class to earn this promotion.
Or People enlisting with a four year college degree can enter as a Specialist.

If that's assistance.


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#24 [url]

Sep 26 11 6:07 AM

When speaking to a lot of vets it seems the spec 4 rank was more common than the corporal rank in country apparently the corporal rank was more associated with artillery battalions...

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#25 [url]

Sep 26 11 6:24 AM

I know what you mean i was watching a Vietnam Documentory the weekend and loads of guys seemed to be displaying this grade!


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In Country

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#26 [url]

Sep 26 11 8:59 AM

I haven't done any research on this, but it appears to me that the Specialist rank has changed somewhat since my time in 1967.  At that time, we had Specialist 4, E-4 grade to Specialist 9, E-9 grade, I think, and now I only see the rank being Specialist at the E-4 level. Specialist 5s and higher were used in technical enlisted positions such as medics, finance, aviation, quartermaster, etc. I don't know if they are still being used. 

Spec 4s were common throughout the infantry and cav units as Russ stated. The rank had pretty much overtaken Corporal.  Spec 4 was generally the promotion after Private First Class about a year or two after being a PFC.  I believe Corporals were still considered the lowest NCO rank and used in some infantry units as assistants to Sergeant E-5s, although I don't recall that we had any Corporals in our company.  I was a Specialist 4 in what was usually an E-5 position, i.e., chief computer (the title sounds odd these days) in Fire Direction Control in the mortar platoon. I probably would have been an E-5 if an opening had been available. We had an E-5 who was squad leader when I was promoted and I guess we didn't have two E-5 positions for the same squad.

It will be interesting to see what you guys find out about this.  It has always been a question in the back of my mind, although I never gave it much importance.

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#27 [url]

Sep 26 11 10:08 AM

You're totally correct Rolando the higher spec grades are no longer used, they were discontinued in phases with specs 8 &9 going in 68, during the same review which gave pfc the rocker, spec 7 was binned in 1978, and spec 5&6 were ended in 1989. The spec grades were indeed a skills based rank which were reffered to as soft rank by many as they were quicker to earn and were trade related. Hard rank NCO's got their rank the "hard way". Spec grades however weren't really allowed to command troops unless they were the highest rank left. Also corporal is the one of rarest ranks in the US army, unless as Russ says you're in artillery as they use a rank structure like the UK, or you had been a bad boy and been busted in rank. As the US usually bust people by more than one pay grade you'd probably end up a corporal if you were busted from E-6 or E-7.

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#28 [url]

Sep 26 11 10:19 PM

I certainly do not want to come off as a know it all. You guys have demonstrated that you know a lot more about the Army than I do now or did then.

This is strictly from my memory observation and impressions not research or knowledge of Army Regs.

For reference I was in the Army from 1966 to 1969.

The rank of corporal (two stripes) was as far as I know discontinued prior to my time. I don’t think I ever met a “hard” (actual corporal) A new enlistee was a private E-1, if he kept himself out of trouble many or perhaps even most were promoted to private E-2 upon graduation from basic training. Again if he was with the program and didn’t get into trouble men were frequently promoted to private first class (one stripe) out of AIT (advanced individual training). As far as I remember corporals only existed in training companies and were actually “acting corporals”. After I finished AIT and was a holdover awaiting orders I was a PFC and assigned to a basic training company. The company commander made me an “acting corporal”. I was still a PFC E-3 but wore the corporal stripes as long as I was with that company assigned to assist a platoon’s drill Sgt. I think that this was quite common, because at that time the Army had a serious shortage of NCOs because of the wartime buildup. A corporal E-4 was the lowest NCO rank. As an acting corporal I was considered to be a NCO but only within that training company, and it did not involve an increase in pay grade.

When I left that company and went to an Infantry company in Korea, I reverted to PFC.

After I was in Korea awhile I was promoted to Spec. 4. A specialist 4 was a pay increase from PFC but was not an NCO. My rank was specialist 4 but I had no “specialty” I was just an infantryman.

While serving there the company commander made me an “acting Sgt” (3 stripes) and put me in charge of a platoon (a job normally held by a Staff Sgt. E-6, or a  Platoon Sgt E-7) again this was common because of the shortage of NCOs. Again I wore the 3 stripes and was considered an NCO but only within that company. When I left that assignment to go to Vietnam I reverted to Spec 4.

I think that promotion to private E-2, PFC, and Spec 4 were solely at the discretion of a company commander, usually a captain but often a 1st Lt. Promotion to Sgt and above involved a promotion board tests and evaluations and I think had to come from a higher level than the company. I thought that these were means for the company commander to “reward” troops who were doing a good job with a little more money but who were not eligible or ready for NCO.

The “acting ranks” were strictly at the pleasure of the company commander – he did not have to court martial or go through any other channels to “demote” an acting Sgt back to his actual pay grade.

Vietnam was different in that Spec 4s were frequently promoted to Sgt E-5, and Sgt E-5 were frequently promoted to Staff Sgt E-6 (3 stripes and one rocker) without a review or promotion board. I don’t know if the company commander could actually do it on his own or if someone higher had to sign off on it, but these promotions were certainly based on the company commander’s recommendation and were actual “hard” or permanent promotions to NCO ranks.

In my case the company commander called me into his tent, and said “congratulations you are being promoted to Sgt E-5 and will be assigned to lead a team” and that was all there was to it.

When I was ready to leave the company commander offered to promote me to Staff Sgt E-6 if I would extend my tour for another 6 months. (I declined)

Back to the specialist ranks it seems to me that promotions to Spec 5 and above also involved a promotion and review board, and required an actual specialty. Spec 5 and above were not NCOs but were pretty much equivalent to them. My understanding was that specialists were supposed to be in charge of functions or equipment, whereas NCOs were in charge of men. That was the way it was supposed to be but it was definitly not a clear distinction Spec 5’s and above were often in charge of men assigned to them, and were generally treated as if they were NCOs.

To Steve’s original question in a line infantry unit an RTO was often a private, PFC, or Spec 4, with no special radio or RTO training. In Vietnam there was a lot of OJT (on the job training) going on.

LRRPs during my time were different in that ranks were largely ignored. It was not uncommon for team leaders to be outranked by team members. At times Spec 4 were assigned as team leaders and had E-5 and E-6 NCOs who were new to combat and new to LRRPs assigned as team members.

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#29 [url]

Sep 27 11 12:58 AM

Dave thats the best explanation of the non commisioned rank system that i've ever read. Its always good to find out that your firsthand knowledge ties in with what i've interpreted from some overly complicated texts. But that is the clearest run down i've ever seen, many thanks

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#30 [url]

Jan 19 12 7:24 AM

"Twill Patches
These are the earliest subdued patches and are basically the unit insignia stitched in black onto green twill material, the later fully embroidered type that are still used today in various colours weren't issued until late 1969 early 1970."

When I typed this before I was wrong, I have since found that Heavy merrowed edges were required on all patches from 1968 onwards, so the good news is you can wear merrowed insignia if your kit is 68 style.
- See you learn something new every day

Nb: When i stated the insignia stitched onto the green twill i should have put embroidered as they were stitched into the twill not attached in layers of cloth as it implies on my previous thread

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