First Faculty Group Members Class 1
15 January 1973
The first class of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (USASMA), 1-73, began its first session on 15 January 1973. Official in-processing had been conducted one week earlier, 8-13 January. Many students arrived in December 1972. Everyone in the class looked at each other and, without very few words being exchanged, went into the contest with mixed emotions. Most of us fully realized that the standards we established would be the guide lines for all future classes. With over an average of 21 of years service and being in the top 4 percent of the United States Army, we comprised a very formidable audience to each speaker as they addressed us from day to day.
The “Group Process” was explored and provided a very workable tool to gain the knowledge and understanding required to assist in the successful mission accomplishment and attain the goals previously established by the Academy. Perfection and knowledge became a standard by-word. Evaluations and examinations were taken and the majority of the students had to be constantly on their toes to keep up with the rugged and challenging curriculum – and the weather was terrible. At first it was snow, sleet and slush, which was the worst in many, many years in the Fort Bliss area. Later, came the winds, dust, sand and heat! But we took it all in stride. . .
As the course reached its halfway mark and the groups were broken down and reassigned, many students were upset and a noticeable lag occurred. However, the old drive soon resumed and in a week or so this lag was forgotten. In the meantime, Human Relations, and Military Operations were tested and put on the shelf, quickly followed by World Affairs and finally Military Management. Electives were always there. . .
The first class established a bowling league and participated in many other events which included tennis, paddle ball, softball and golf. The wives had their share of activities going on at the same time. The Spirit of USASMA began to take shape and finally graduation came into focus and in the minds of every student. One hundred students now remained. Five students did not make the final day. An Academy yearbook was completed and ready for publication, another first, and was aptly named “The Pinnacle.”
This class had its trying moments, but the final objective was achieved. The pilot course was completed and evaluated. The Commandant, Staff, Faculty and Students had tried and tested the course. A few minor changes were cranked into the curriculum and the next class of 200 top noncommissioned officers was selected by Department of the Army.
A Dining-In, Graduation Ball, and Bowling/Awards Banquet were the highlights of the social calendar. Dia¬logues, lectures, after-lecture, conferences and no-host luncheons greatly improved the overall perspective of the students – and who will ever forget the student monographs and “Group Research” papers? As the last week rolled in a fever of excitement gripped the entire class. All of us realized, as we looked at our class rings and diplomas, that a very big milestone had been accomplished. A very vital chapter had been written in our lives and history indeed had been made in the United States Army and the senior Noncommissioned Officer Corps. We were in the middle of that key event.