This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri June 7th 2017. If you would like to see the current articles as they are published, you may subscribe to The Belle Banner by calling 573-859-3328, or email, or mail to The Belle Banner, PO Box 711, Belle, MO 65013. Subscription rates are; Maries, Osage, and Gasconade County = $23.55 per year, elsewhere in Missouri = $26.77, outside Missouri = $27.00, and foreign countries = $40.00.
During my time in the Army, I was in many different companies, infantry rifle companies, battalion headquarters companies, a division headquarters company, personnel company, signal company, Army headquarters company, Special Forces training Group company, Special Forces company, and basic training companies as a drill sergeant. In all those companies, the most important and sensitive position, after the First Sergeant, was the Supply Sergeant. When an officer assumes command of a company, there is a complete inventory of all equipment, material, weapons, and vehicles, everything in the company that does not breathe and eat. When that officer leaves that command, another inventory is conducted, and if there are any items missing, that simply can’t be accounted for, that officer may have to pay for them, at the very least. Possibly a bad mark on his or her officer efficiency report, and in the worst case may be charged with dereliction of duty, or theft. The individual in that officers’ company that has direct control of all material and equipment is the Supply Sergeant.
Army Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 92Y, Unit Supply Specialist. There are a gazillion supply specialists in the Army. Every company in the Army, regardless of its’ type and mission, infantry, medical, police, signal and special forces has a supply sergeant and at least one supply specialist. The ASVAB requirements for this MOS are not high, 90 in the CL (clerical) area, but if you are not a 100% honest, smart, self-motivated, hard-working individual, don’t consider this job in the Army. The Supply Sergeant maintains the Company Property Book, which identifies every non-expendable item in the company. The Supply Sergeant and assistant make sure that everyone who has possession of or control of an item (like a vehicle) has signed for that item. The S4 staff sections at battalion and brigade are the supply and logistics staff sections. At battalion the S4 is normally a Captain with a Sergeant First Class Supply Sergeant and maybe a Sergeant assistant and a couple of supply specialists. At brigade the S4 is a Quartermaster Corp Major with a Captain assistant and a Chief Warrant Officer, who is the Brigade Property Book Officer. The Brigade Supply Sergeant is a Master Sergeant E8, usually with a couple of sergeant assistants and a few supply specialists. At Division level the staff section is G4, which is a Lieutenant Colonel, with a staff of officers and sergeants. The G4 supply sergeant is a Sergeant Major E9. Unit Supply Specialists know how to request equipment and material, they know how to receive it, store it, stock it, issue it, account for it, and turn it back in.
Things are not as tightly controlled in combat, where everything is expendable. When I went to Vietnam in 1966, I, as did every soldier arriving in country, processed through the 90th Replacement Battalion at Long Binh, about 20 miles from Saigon. The Supply Sergeant of the 90th Replacement Battalion, Staff Sergeant (SSG) Britt, had been the supply sergeant of a company I had been in at Fort Bragg. His houch area (a houch was a tent, usually a medium (16’ x 32’) with pallet flooring (concrete if lucky), and sand bag walls outside) was much nicer than any around it. He had a full size refrigerator, a stereo and a table with a hot plate burner. I ask where he got all of that stuff. He said; “You remember Specialist Smith that was my assistant at Bragg, well he went to flight school and became a helicopter pilot. He walked in here one day and asked if I could get him some jungle fatigues and boots. I told him that I could get them, but it wouldn’t be easy, I ask how many he wanted. He wanted three sets of jungle fatigues and two pair of jungle boots, then he asked what it would cost him. I told him it would cost him that grease gun (small .45 cal machinegun) on his shoulder. I was kidding, but he just handed it to me. I traded the grease gun for a .357 magnum revolver, I traded the .357 to a guy at the docks for two 21 cubic foot refrigerators, I kept one and sold the other for enough to buy the rest of this stuff.” That is not exactly how it works, but that was then.
There have been incidents of supply sergeants going to prison, for stealing from the government, because they were handling all that expensive material, and they thought they were smart enough to steal and cover it up, so that no one would find out, but they do find out. The Supply Sergeant who is on top of everything and has it under control and keeps everyone supplied with what they need is the unit hero, if not, he or she is in trouble. Another war story. A great man I once worked for, Command Sergeant Major John Pearce, had a reputation, with those who didn’t know him, as being dumb and loud. He was loud, he was certainly not dumb. He is the only individual ever to be Command Sergeant Major of the 82nd Airborne Division twice. After his first term as the Division Sergeant Major, he was sent to Vietnam as a Battalion Sergeant Major in the 1st Cavalry Division. There was a supply problem in his battalion. Replacement uniforms and boots weren’t getting to the troops in the field, they were in rags. He went to the Battalion S4 Sergeant to find the problem. The Supply Sergeant told him that they were being requested, but sometimes higher headquarters claimed that they didn’t get the request and they would have to send it up again. CSM Pearce said; “I told him that he had three weeks to fix it or I would send him to the field with a rifle company and his assistant could be the supply sergeant. He told me I couldn’t do that. Three weeks went by and nothing happened. I went back to the rear and put him with his gear on my helicopter and dropped him off with a rifle company. In less than three weeks the uniforms, boots, and replacement personal gear started flowing. I left him out there over a month, and when I picked him up he didn’t really want to leave, he told me that moving with a rifle company in a combat area was less stressful than supply. He said that he now had a much better appreciation for his job. We didn’t have any more supply problems during the rest of my tour with that battalion.”
Unit Supply Specialist MOS 92Y, Advanced Individual Training (AIT) is eight weeks and two days, with travel and processing figure nine weeks, at the US Army Quartermaster School at Fort Lee (Petersburg), Virginia. As I have said before, AIT is AIT, you are still a trainee, but with a lot more freedom than in basic. The routine is 04:30 or 05:00 wake up, PT, breakfast, then clean your room, shower and get dressed for class. Class is 08:30 to Noon, lunch is 12:00 to 13:00, and then class until 17:00 (5:00 PM) then released. When off duty, you can use your cell phone, computer, pads, etc. You generally have the freedom to go anywhere on post, when off duty, then toward the end of AIT, off post, as long as nobody causes a problem. Bed check is 21:30 (9:30 PM). Some have described it as like college in uniform. The first couple days are orientations to the course, the school and the Quartermaster Corps. Then there are about three weeks of intense basic supply procedures. The classes are how to prepare unit supply files and signature cards, request supplies and equipment, prepare document registers, cancel supply requests, receive property, store property, inventory property, issue property, turn-in property, transfer property, maintain unit loads, prepare unit and organizational level hand receipts/sub-hand receipts, manually prepare the DA Form to be used as a hand receipt, hand receipt annex, component list and a shortage annex, prepare the DA Form as a change document, process property adjustment documents, process personal clothing requests, and prepare OCIE (organizational clothing and individual equipment) records. Then there is two weeks on the Global Combat Support System (GCSS-Army). Classes include how to update component management data, maintain unit load data, maintain material status, prepare reports, perform ammunition transactions, establish logistic scenarios, perform Automatic Identification Technology processes, supervise inventory of property and complete certification on prerequisite new equipment GCSS-Army Web based training. And the last two weeks is a unit armorers’ course. That course does not teach how to repair any weapons, it teaches the security and administrative control of the weapons and the unit arms room. In most companies’ there is a Staff Sergeant Supply Sergeant and a 92Y Specialist, who is the unit armorer. I never saw that practiced. In every company I was in, and from what I read the practice is still to use, the 92Y Specialist is the assistant to the Supply Sergeant, and another soldier is pulled from the line to do the job of armorer. Every Fort that has combat troops has an on post Armorer School. A trained unit supply specialist is too valuable to put in the arms room.
After AIT, if you take the Airborne Option you go to Fort Benning, Georgia for three weeks of airborne school. I encourage everyone, men and women to go airborne. Whether a soldier is a personnel clerk, cook, or supply clerk, being in an airborne unit encourages excellent performance. When serving with the best, soldiers try to do their best. All must make at least one parachute jump every three months, to keep their extra airborne pay current. Whether an individual goes airborne or not, after AIT they are assigned to a unit. That could be any type of company in the Army, supply is supply, plus they could also be assigned to a staff section or a supply support section. After arriving at a unit and being assigned to a job, the new Unit Supply Specialist discovers that what he or she learned in AIT only scratched the surface of knowledge of the Army supply system. The study is continuous, and the learning constant. Working in supply can sometimes mean long hours, but one of the pluses is everyone wants to be friends with the people in the supply room, because they have what the soldiers need.
The civilian jobs for which having army supply experience is a benefit are shipping and receiving, order clerks, purchasing agents and warehouse operation and management. The Army National Guard and Reserves are always advertising for experienced unit supply specialists. For those who stay in the Army, promotions are about normal for most support jobs, plus after a few years, some supply sergeants apply for warrant officer. A Warrant Officer is a technician, their rank is a multi-striped bar, enlisted soldiers salute them and call them sir or ma am, and officers call them Mister or Ma am.
This is a good job in the Army, not necessarily an easy job, but a highly respected job. But, as I said at the beginning of this article, if you are 100% honest, smart, self-motivated and hard-working, this can be a great job, if you’re not try something else.

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