One of my biggest accomplishments as a Company Commander was to establish the “Ricky Chicken” Award. Ricky was a rubber chicken that became our company mascot. I don’t have a “current” picture of the actual rubber chicken (Ricky), but he looked something like the chicken in the photo below. I acquired Ricky Chicken about a year before taking command while I was deployed to Kosovo with KFOR8.
The purpose of the Ricky Chicken Award was to recognize the Soldier who did or said the dumbest thing during drill weekend. An example could be a Soldier who tripped while carrying food, a Soldier who asked a stupid question or just about anything else. Therefore, everyone in the unit was busy looking for people doing or saying dumb or things. That way they would have someone to nominate for the award.
At the end of every drill weekend during final formation, Soldiers were allowed to nominate someone for the award based upon something that happened that drill weekend. They had to explain what the other person did or said. The story didn’t always have to be true, but it had to believable. Also, Soldiers could nominate anyone from the Company Commander to the lowest ranking Private.
Once we had a few nominations our Soldiers would vote for the person they thought deserved the award for that drill weekend. We would simply have Soldiers raise their hand to cast their vote. I tallied up the votes on the spot and notified the lucky winner in front of his/her peers.
That lucky Soldier got called to the front of formation, along with the previous month’s winner, so they could “pass the chicken.” It was a formal ceremony that lasted a few minutes. The “winner” would say some closing remarks after receiving the award. In most cases, it was down right humorous. Everyone had a good sense of humor about it.
Your goal was to not win the award yourself and hopefully not let anyone in your platoon win the award either. We had a few folks who won the award several times. That always made me laugh. As the Company Commander, I never won the award myself, but I could have. I was nominated a few times, but got saved by the skin of my teeth.
I got the idea from the Ricky Chicken Award from a previous unit. While assigned to an Active Duty Forward Support Battalion many years earlier, our battalion did a “chalk block” award where they followed a similar nomination process and criteria. The only difference was that you couldn’t nominate someone who outranked you and if you won, you got to carry around a heavy “chalk block” at all social events. The award/event was always fun so I wanted to have something similar when I became a Company Commander.
Although I have been out of Company Command for almost three full years now, the Ricky Chicken Award is still going strong in my old unit, F Company, 128th Brigade Support Battalion. That makes me very proud! I’m glad the NCOs and officers kept this tradition going. From what I hear on Facebook, there are still some funny stories every drill weekend.
If you are in charge of a small unit (or big unit) you should develop something similar to the Ricky Chicken Award. It will have a great impact on morale and esprit de corps. Best of all, it’s free and easy to do.
If any of you “Spartan” Soldiers are reading this post, I would love to hear your favorite Ricky Chicken Award Story. Maybe you could even send me a couple photos of Ricky, or a photo from one of your award ceremonies. Just leave a comment to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.
If your unit has something similar to recognize dumb things, you can share them too. Thanks.