“We Knew Where We Were Going”: “Shake And Bake” NCOs In Vietnam

Trask, Horn, and Pace


During the Vietnam War, Soldiers who performed well during Basic Training or Advanced Individual Training were given the opportunity to attend the Noncommissioned Officer Candidate Course. Upon graduation from the course, these new E-5s or E-6s were deployed to Vietnam to fill critical shortages in the NCO ranks. Popularly referred to as “Shake and Bake” Sergeants, they became Squad Leaders with little more experience than the Soldiers they were responsible for. In this interview, three “Shake and Bake” NCOs from D Company, 1st Squadron, 5th Cavalry Regiment in the 1st Cavalry Division, Brian Trask, Denver Horn, and Jim “Dave” Pace, share their experiences. They talk about the physical training and classroom instruction they received in the school (70th Company, Class 26-68 B, June 68). They describe being assigned to a training unit after receiving their stripes as a way of building confidence in their leadership abilities. Arriving in Vietnam, they were all assigned to the same company, Denver and Dave in the same Platoon (3rd) and Brian in 2nd Platoon. They share how they built relationships with the other NCOs and their Soldiers, and how they were received. They reflect on a wide variety of experiences during their deployment, including firefights, ambushes, and getting wounded. At the end of the interview, they reflect on being “Shake and Bake” NCOs, noting it was a successful program that “gave us what we needed and wanted.”


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Injuries Military Techniques
interviewer David Siry
date 13 June 2023


name Trask, Horn, and Pace
service Infantry
unit D / 1-5 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division
specialty "Shake and Bake" NCOs Noncommissioned Officer Candidate Course