Monday, September 19, 2011

"The War Department Won't Promote Dead Men"

Quote from correspondence between Zero Wilson (my Grandfather) and General George Parker, 23 May 1946.

Really? No promotions for dead men? But what if they were supposed to be promoted before they were dead, they just happened to be incarcerated as a POW? For the War Department in 1946, and I suspect today, it doesn't matter - dead, then no promotion.

It's an interesting concept, promotions, and I suspect it is as similar in the corporate climb to success as it is in the military. My Grandfather, along with his best friend, "Dinty" Moore (at West Point everyone gets a nickname) and many others received what are called battlefield promotions. Available to enlisted personnel as well as officers, these promotions are typically awarded for behavior in combat. What they don't tell you is that after the war, the War Department may decide to take yours away. So Granddaddy and Dinty got demoted in 1946 after all their hard work (rather an understatement for POW Camp, the Hell Ships, and Manchuria).

Promotions are awarded at specified times throughout a career; the better you do at your job, the more responsibility you take on, etc. helps in the promotion decision. I find it ironic that while my Father loved his country, wanted nothing more to be than an Army Officer, expected to receive a promotion upon his return from Vietnam. Unfortunately, he was killed in action and we all know what the War Department says about Dead Men.

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