GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba -- Not only did Army Pfc. Alec Manning received the honor of being promoted to private first class by the Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey during Dailey's visit to Joint Task Force Guantanamo on U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba at the Seaside Galley June 11, he also took the opportunity to request an SMA coin for each of his battle buddies.
Manning, a Benton Harbor, Michigan native and assigned to the Joint Task Force's 525th Military Police Battalion, said, "My team leader came to me and he asked who I would like to be pinned by. I knew he [sergeant major of the Army] was coming to the island pretty soon."
He did not think much about what he had said until Sgt. 1st Class Kale Webster, a platoon sergeant for the 525th MP Bn., asked him a similar question while talking about his promotion, said Manning.
Manning said, "I was talking [about my promotion] to my platoon sergeant [Webster] and I said, 'I heard the sergeant major of the Army is coming; how about that?' Initially, I was kidding; I wasn't serious."
Webster told him that we can make it happen if that is what he wanted, said Manning.
"I fired off an email to the first sergeant and sergeant major and it snowballed from there," said Webster.
The sergeant major of the Army was finishing lunch with 28 service members just inside the doors and Manning's anticipation was rising. His platoon was standing in formation and he and Webster were exchanging conversation about the opportunity he was about to face when Dailey exited out of the door and approached Manning.
"So do mom and dad know you are getting promoted today?" said Dailey "That's a big deal; you've got to call home."
Once "Attention to Orders" was complete, Dailey positioned himself in front of Manning tore his old rank off and pinned him with his new private first class rank. He reached into his pocket and pulled out one of his coveted sergeant major of the Army coins and they shook hands -- Dailey officially "coined" Manning.
"I don't take promotion lightly," said Dailey. "I remember the day that I was promoted to Pfc. Dailey and for me, that was a big deal."
Dailey congratulated him and said, "It is an honor and a privilege for me to promote you today. Give him a round of applause!" Dailey said and continued with a little humor, "Now we have a tradition in the Army, you have to give a 20 minute speech. No, it is 30 [minutes] because you are an E-3 now."
Manning explained the events leading up to his promotion and thanked his leadership for reaching out to Dailey.
"I appreciate everybody in this formation today," said Manning.
Dailey asked manning if there was one Soldier who he recommended from his platoon to get a coin. Manning could not recommend just one and asked Dailey if he could give everyone in the formation a coin.
"He wants everyone to get a coin today," said Dailey. "This is your lucky day." Dailey "coined" every Soldier standing in formation who came out to support Manning's promotion ceremony.
By taking the initiative and sending out emails to his leadership, Webster made it possible for Manning to have a day that he will remember for the rest of his life.
"It is an amazing opportunity," said Webster. "I have been in the Army 19 years and have never seen the sergeant major of the Army promote a Soldier. It is something he will remember and I know I will remember it. I am in the twilight years of my career and it is a wonderful thing to see toward the end. A newer generation getting promoted by the older generation of the Army."
Dailey expressed that promoting a Soldier is one of the best experiences that he gets to do.
"When I get the opportunity to promote one of our Soldiers, it is a true testament to that Soldier's hard work and dedication to this profession," said Dailey. "When we can reward a Soldier for doing hard work, it demonstrates their potential to take on to that next step. It is a great feeling!"