A Brief History of the:
Noncommissioned Officer Candidate Course
Ft. Benning GA
In late 1967, it was called the "Instant NCO Course" and the men who completed the course were referred to as, "Shake n' Bakes", "Instant NCO's", and "Whip n' Chills" because of the speed in which they made rank. In reality they were graduates from the Army's new Noncommissioned Officer Candidate Course (NCOCC). This new program was set up to train young recruits, to replace career NCO's who were now retiring from the Army or were hostile action casualties in Vietnam. The war in Vietnam was taking a toll on the NCO leadership and something had to be done to correct the problem. As part of Phase I (OJT) of the program, graduates were assigned to serve as Platoon Sergeants and Squad Leaders at military posts here in the States, overseeing the training of troops with the same MOS (Military Occupational Speciality). Phase II of the program took place in Vietnam and Korea, where these men continued their responsibilities as Platoon Sergeants, Squad Leaders and in some cases Platoon Leaders due to the loss of Officers from combat actions.
The idea was revolutionary, therefore, controversial from the start. Many senior NCO's had difficulty accepting the new idea of giving rank to a group of young men, new to the military, when it took them years of hard knocks and rough and tumble type experiences and training to acquire their rank. Many felt that the program denied the men in the field the opportunity to move up in rank. They didn't realize that this program had no bearings, what so ever, on who got promoted in the field. Soldiers in Vietnam and other military posts around the world who showed leadership ability continued to receive promotions and advanced in rank.
The challenges of the Vietnam War had demanded that the U.S. Army break with past practices that were obviously outdated. Unlike Korea and World War II, Vietnam was not a senior commanders type war, a war covering large spans of terrain. It was a junior leaders war, limited to small AO's (areas of operation) with the brunt of the fighting falling directly on the shoulders of Junior Officers and Noncommissioned Officers.
NOTE: One of the men responsible for the idea, the planning and the implementation of this program was Lt. Col. David Hackworth and is mention in the book about his life, "About Face".
The plan was to set up training programs at bases nationwide, according to MOS.
This chart lists the specialties that were involved in this plan.
N.C.O.C. Courses for the following M.O.S.:
|MOS CODE||Occupation Speciality||Base Location
|11B40|| Light Weapon Infantryman||Ft. Benning
|11C40|| Infantry Indirect Fire Crewman||Ft. Benning
|11D40 ****|| Armor Reconnaissance Specialist||Ft. Knox
|11E40 ****|| Armor Crewman ||Ft. Knox
|11F40|| Infantry Operations and Intelligence||Ft. Benning
|12B40 **|| Combat Engineer||Ft. Leonard Wood
|13B40 *|| Field Artillery||Ft. Sill
|13E40 *|| Field Artillery, Operation and Intelligence||Ft. Sill
|17B40|| Field Artillery Radar||Ft. Sill
|17E40|| Field Illumination Crewman||Ft. Sill
|31G40|| Tactical Communications Chief||Ft. Sill, Ft. Knox
|16F40 ***|| Light Air Defense Artillery Crewman||Ft. Bliss
Information for men who Graduated from NCOC Schools at other Forts. These contacts might be able to help you find a buddy or info about your Class.
* NOTE: Graduates who attended NCO School at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma (1968-1972) are encouraged to contact Barry Holland.
*** NOTE: Graduates who attended NCO School at Ft. Bliss, Texas (1968-1972) are encouraged to contact John Mowatt.
**** NOTE: Graduates who attended NCO School at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, for the MOS of 11D (Recon) and 11E (Tankers) (1968-1972) are encouraged to contact Robert C. Lagana.
** NOTE: Graduates who attended NCO School at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri for the MOS of 51H (Engineers) (1968-1972) are encouraged to contact Jim Fishel.
United States Army Infantry School
Ft. Benning, GA
The course at Ft. Benning.
To qualify as a Candidate, individuals had to have a minimun score of 100 on their aptitude test. Men could volunteer for the program by notifying their Unit Leaders, but from the information we've gathered, many seem to have been drafted into the program (the numbers aren't in yet, but maybe in time, the N.C.O.C. Locator will be able to pole everyone and have a reasonable idea of what the volunteer/drafted ratio number was). Many of the recruits were recommended for the program by their Platoon Sergeants and Unit Commanders who saw signs of leadership while the men were going through Basic and AIT training. Candidates had to be of the rank E-4 or below and have at least 13 months or more remaining on active duty after completing Phase 1 of the program. They also had to qualify for assignments to Restricted Areas. This required them to be qualified for a security clearance of, "Confidential".
The first Class (1-67) at the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning began on September 1, 1967. Due to the large number of men needed for Infantry Units in Vietnam, men with an Infantry MOS (11B) were the first to start. During the first fiscal year of 1968 (July 1, 1967 - June 30, 1968) there were 41 Infantry Classes to gradaute. Positive reports about the graduates from overseas encouraged the program to continue to grow. Classes for Indirect Fire Crewmen (11C) and Infantry Operation and Intelligence (11F) started during the fiscal year of 1969.
A breakdown of Classes held at Ft. Benning.
||11 Bravo|| ( Light Weapon Infantryman )
|1968||41 Classes||5,640 Graduates||453 KIA
|1969||49 Classes||6,572 Graduates||343 KIA
|1970||30 Classes||4,150 Graduates||192 KIA
|1971||17 Classes||2,595 Graduates ||14 KIA
|1972||7 Classes||1,111 Graduates||1 KIA
|11 Charlie||( Indirect Fire Crewman )
|1969||6 Classes||846 Graduates||28 KIA
|1970||11 Classes ||1,533 Graduates||23 KIA
|1971||4 Classes||572 Graduates||1 KIA
|11 Foxtrot||( Infantry Operation and Intelligence )||
|1969||4 Classes||635 Graduates||13 KIA
|1970||11 Classes||1,506 Graduates||45 KIA
|1971||3 Classes||346 Graduates||3 KIA
|1972||4 Classes||572 Graduates||2 KIA
|TOTALS||187 Classes || 26,078 Graduates ||1,118 Killed in Vietnam |
As the war in Vietnam started to wind down, the number of classes and graduates began to diminish. Troop withdrawals which began in 1969 with the Peace Talks in Paris, continued until 1972. The Army policy changed from Search and Destroy Missions to a Pacification Phase.
The last Class to graduate from this program was on March 18, 1972. Due to the success of the program, the Army implemented two new similar programs. The purpose of these new programs was to give opportunity to soldiers returning from Vietnam. They would get addtional training and the chance to move up in rank. The new schools at Ft. Benning became know as BNCOC (Basic NCOC) and ANCOC (Advanced NCOC). As it truned out, some ot the earlier graduates went on to participate in the ANCOC program after they returned from Vietnam and Korea.
The general consensus among many of the graduates, 30 plus years later, was that NCOC school was the best time they had in the service. The training was the best of its kind, at the time, and many felt it was instrumental in their survival and the survival of their men in combat.
Even Commanding Offiers and Senior NCO's in Vietnam came to realize that the idea was the right solution for the times. Their own rotation went to six months in the bush, six months in the rear while most NCOC sergeants spent their whole tour in the bush. Acceptence didn't happen overnight and it took examples of heroism and leadership to prove the program was a success.
One final Note:
The average NCOC Graduate had five months of military service under his belt and most entered the course with the rank of E-2 and/or E-3. The average age was 20 1/2 years old with one year of college. After graduation, all qualified for OCS (Officers Candidate School), but most opted to get their military obligation done as soon as possible. One went to West Point. Some went on to OCS, Ranger School, and Helicopter Pilot School. Some are still in the service today and many have since retired as Senior NCO's and Staff Officers.
When the Classes began in the Fall of 1967, the Candidates were housed at the Main Base. During the middle of the 1968 fiscal year, the individual Companies were moved out to the Harmony Church area of Ft. Benning. When the 11 Charlies and 11 Foxtrot Classes began, they were housed at the Main Base then moved over in the Sand Hill section of Ft. Benning. Later in 1970 when the number of Classes diminished for each MOS, the 11 Foxtrot Companies were moved over to the Harmony Chruch area. By the end of fiscal year of 1971 all the Classes were moved back to the Main Post.
Created by Budd Russell
November 11, 1997
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