The day in day outs of my military life is pretty hectic. Get to the office, check emails, answer phone calls, update reports, call a million people, go to meetings, repeat repeat. But everyone once in a while, something happens that shakes up your day, and last month, that "something" was my name coming out on the major's list!
I'm currently a captain, and have been since I pinned on the rank while I was in the Army on 1 September 2005. When I left the Army and joined the Air Force, my date of rank (when I pinned on my most current rank) changed from September of 2005 to December of 2006 to adjust for active duty, inactive, and reserve time. Some crazy formula that I can't even begin to understand - whatever.
So, even though I joined the JAG Corps and the Air Force in May of 2011, the Air Force calculates that I've been a captain since December of 2006. Great for pay and prestige purposes, but a bummer for experience. You see, the years you spend as a captain in the JAG Corps are the years you do a bunch of trials, get in the court a lot, etc. While I've had the chance to do a few courts, I won't be able to spend a lot of time as a captain developing those courtroom skills because I'm simply too high ranking.
And with that....I made the major's list! 77 members of the JAG Corps made the list, which means that we've been selected for promotion. How it works is a little weird: we all have a number (I'm actually #2) that is based on our date of rank. Starting at some soon-to-be-announced month probably this fall, the JAG Corps will start promoting a handful of people a month. The good news about having a low number is that the first month, they will definitely promote at least two of us, so I won't have to wait TOO long to pin on.
So what does being a major mean? First, it's a new echelon of officer. Lieutenants and Captains are "Company Grade Officers", meaning the lowest operational officers. However, when you pin on major, you become a "Field Grade Officer", which means higher than a company grade officer, but lower than a general officer. So, I'm now among the Lieutenant Colonels and Colonels and other Majors. There's a sense of greater responsibility, greater knowledge, and greater respect for this rank.
I remember what seems like yesterday sitting in ROTC in college under my instructors who were captains thinking that they were 1) so old and 2) so wise. Now I'm older, getting ready to be ranked higher, and don't feel that wise.
My boss told me I was on the list and then my wing commander and vice wing commander came down and presented me with a gold oak leaf (the symbol for a major) that he had worn as a major, which really meant a lot to me. I also co-hosted a little free drink party with my friend and fellow promotee, Eric, and lots of commanders, first sergeants, members of OSI, and co-workers came. I was touched to find that so many people were willing to stop by and offer congrats, although I'm sure the promise of free drinks didn't hurt :-)
So, I'm officially "Major Select Beach" which simply means I'm waiting to pin on, although I just keep using the phrase "captain" until that happens. Sad to give up my captains bars, but on to bigger things!!