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The publication of The Story of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps culminates the Center of Military History's contribution to the Year of the NCO. The Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff directed this year-long consideration of the special responsibilities and acccomplishments of the noncommissioned officer so that members of our Army might come to appreciate better the vital role they have played and continue to play in the defense of the nation.

For its part in this commemoration, the Center used its Army Artist Program to commission three enlisted artists to prepare eighteen paintings that depict American noncommissioned officers exercising their historic responsibilities in peace and war. These paintings, with detailed captions that explain the historical significance of the NCO's traditional roles as small unit leader, trainer, and guardian of Army standards, were recently published as a print set and are available through the Army's Publication Center.

The Center also published Time-Honored Professionals, a booklet describing the work of today's NCOs as part of a long tradition of military service. Aimed specifically at recent graduates of the Primary Leader Development Course, this illustrated essay describes the evolution of the NCO's duties through two hundred years of our nation's history.

Expanding on these preliminary efforts, The Story of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps attempts to place the corps in its wider historical context. The emergence of NCOs as recognized professionals, a development whose importance is being commemorated this year throughout the Army, is a stirring story of accomplishment, perseverance, and dedication to the highest military standards. As General Vuono says elsewhere in this volume, “The noncommissioned officer is the standard bearer of our Army." I believe that the aptness of his statement is amply demonstrated in the pages that follow.

We in the military history community are acutely aware of the need for a detailed, scholarly study of the American noncommissioned officer and look forward to seeing such a project launched in the near future. Meanwhile, I recommend these three projects to the members of the Total Army, especially to its company grade officers and noncommissioned officers, those most intimately involved in leading and training the men and women of the Army. Our goal, as expressed in these publications, is to foster a better understanding of the difficult tasks routinely assumed by the NCO and of the continuing need for excellent small unit leaders, trainers, and guardians of our Army's standards.

Washington, D.C. 13 June 1989

Brigadier General, USA
Chief of Military History


Although only two names appear on the title page, this volume was very much a collaborative effort. Ten contributing historians wrote this book; three Army specialists created the series of paintings that are the basis for the essays in Part Two: Anita Y. Sonnie, Theresa L. Unger, and Manuel B. Ablaza; and one of CMH's own NCOS, SFC Marshall T. Williams, designed and drew the NCO insignia that enhance this volume as Appendix A. We also wish to acknowledge the important contributions made by John W. Elsberg, Editor in Chief, who designed and directed the production of the book; Morris J. MacGregor, Jr., Acting Chief Historian, and Albert E. Cowdrey, Acting Chief, Histories Division, who served as exacting readers; Arthur S. Hardyman, Chief, Graphics Branch, who directed the selection and placement of the illustrations; Linda M. Cajka, who designed the photographic essays and prepared the final layout; Howell C. Brewer, Jr., who did the photographic research; Catherine A. Heerin, Chief, Editorial Branch, and Barbara H. Gilbert, who edited the manuscript into final shape; and Shelby Stanton, Peter Harrington of the Anne K. Brown Collection, Marie Yates of DAVA, and the staff of Soldiers magazine, all of whom assisted in the search for photographs. The draft of this work was read and critiqued by Colonel Robert A. Doughty, Head, Department of History, USMA; Professor Roger A. Beaumont, Texas A&M University; and Major Christopher G. Clark, U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. We would also like to thank SFC Al Sanchez, PERSCOM, who reviewed the section on NCOES, and Joanne M. Brignolo, Joycelyn M. Canery, Rae T. Panella, M. Dixon Robin, LaJuan R. Watson, and Wyvetra B. Yeldell, who provided careful assistance during the production process.

A list of those historians who contributed to the writing of this volume follows below. Each contributor assumes full responsibility for his part of this study, to include any errors of commission or omission.

Charles R. Anderson (M.A., Western Michigan University) is the author of two personal accounts of the Vietnam War: The Grunts and Vietnam: The Other War. He wrote eight essays for this volume: “Ready for Patrol,” “Ambulance Corps Proficiency,” “Sustaining the Offensive,” “A Hidden Resource,' “Keeping the System Moving,” “From Information to Intelligence,” “War in a Maze," and "Training the Trainers."

Larry A. Ballard is a historian with the Center of Military History and the author of numerous articles on U.S. Army history. He served as an NCO with the Army in Vietnam and as a historian with the 116th Military History Detachment, Virginia Army National Guard. He contributed the essays "Guardians of Standards,” “Laying the Gun,” and “Dress on the Colors." He also

compiled the Selected Documents section and the appendix on The Evolution of NCO Sleeve Insignia.

Maj. Christopher G. Clark (M.A., Kearney State College) is a military historian serving as the chief of the Course Development Division at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy. He contributed the appendix on Suggestions for Further Reading.

Arnold G. Fisch, Jr. (Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University), is the author of Military Government in the Ryukyu Islands, 1945-1950, and The Department of the Army. He contributed the essay “Teamwork, Firepower, Responsibility." He also prepared the final versions of “The Evolution and Development of the NCO Corps Since 1775" and the appendix on “A Gallery of Noncommissioned Officer Heroes."


Ernest F. Fisher, Jr. (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin), is the author of, among other works, Cassino to the Alps, in the U.S. Army in World War II series. He wrote the initial versions of “The Evolution of and Development of the NCO Corps Since 1775'' and the appendix on “A Gallery of Noncommissioned Officer Heroes."

Mark D. Sherry (M.A., Georgetown University) is assigned to the U.S. Army Center of Military History's Directorate of International and Field Programs. His special area of interest is post-World War II national strategy. He contributed the essay “Give Me Ten.''

Lt. Col. Adrian G. Traas (M.A., Texas A&M University) served with Corps of Engineers units in Korea, Vietnam, Italy, and Virginia. He is currently preparing a volume on engineer operations for the U.S. Army in Vietnam series and another book on topographical engineers in the Mexican War. He wrote the essay “Into the Provinces.”

Lt. Col. Joseph W. A. Whitehorne (Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University) is the author of several books and articles. Currently the historian for the Office of the Inspector General, he will soon assume duties as Associate Professor of History at Lord Fairfax College in Virginia. He contributed the essay “Checking Cartridge Boxes.

Robert K. Wright, Jr. (Ph.D., College of William and Mary), who served as a noncommissioned officer in Vietnam, is a major in the Virginia Army National Guard. He is the author of The Continental Army and coauthored SoldierStatesmen of the Constitution. He developed the format for the Portraits of NCOs in Action section of the book and wrote the essays “To Range the Woods" and “An Ordered and Disciplined Camp.”

Washington, D.C. 13 June 1989



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Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States,

Part I, 1789 ...


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Government of the Armies of the United States; with the

Regulations of the War Department, 1812 .


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9th ed., 1814. .


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also, The Rules and Articles of War, and Extracts from Laws

Relating to them, 1835 ...

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United States, 1847.


Extract from Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott, Infantry Tactics; or,

Rules for the Exercise and Maneuvers of the

United States Infantry, 1854 .


Extract from Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1904 . . 166

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Professional Status

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States, 1841 ..


General Orders No. 37, Headquarters of the Army, 21 October 1852 . 173

Extract from Annual Report of the Secretary of War for the Year 1888. 173

Extract from Annual Report of the Secretary of War for the Year 1889. 174

Extract from Annual Report of the Secretary of War for the Year 1891. 175

Extract from Annual Report of the Secretary of War for the Year 1892. 177

Extract from Annual Report of the Secretary of War for the Year 1893. 177

Extract from Circular No. 30, War Department, 1 May 1924


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General Orders No. 98, HQ, U.S. Continental Army Command,

18 July 1972 .


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