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Rank Specialist 5, E5
Manufacture : Kalka Augsburg
old German Made
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On 1 July 1955, four grades of specialist were established: Specialist Third Class (E-4 or SP3), Specialist Second Class (E-5 or SP2), Specialist First Class (E-6 or SP1), and Master Specialist (E-7 or MSP). The insignia was yellow on a dark blue background. It was the same smaller size as women's NCO stripes - to differentiate Specialists from NCOs, they were the same shape as NCO stripes - but were inverted to distinguish them, and the General Service Army Eagle was set in the center. The senior specialist ranks of SP2 (E5), SP1 (E6), and MSP (E7) were indicated by one, two, or three yellow arcs over the Eagle, respectively. In 1956 the Army Green uniform was adopted. The enlisted stripes were changed from yellow on a blue backing to Goldenlite Yellow on a green backing. The specialist insignia was redesigned to be larger, broader, and more rounded. In 1958 the DoD added two additional pay grades to give enlisted soldiers more opportunities to progress to a full career with additional opportunities for promotion. Thus the recognition was changed to six specialist ranks, and the pay grade was tied into the rank designation: specialist four (E-4), specialist five (E-5), specialist six (E-6), specialist seven (E-7), specialist eight (E-8), and specialist nine (E-9). The "Super Grades" of Spec./8 and Spec./9 were respectively given one and two Goldenlite chevrons below the Eagle. CSM Daniel K. Elder goes on to explain, "In 1968 when the Army added the rank of command sergeant major, the specialist ranks at E-8 and E-9 were abolished", because they were notional rather than actual. "In 1978 the specialist rank at E-7 was discontinued and in 1985, the specialist ranks at E-5 and E-6 were discontinued." These specialist ranks were created to reward personnel with higher degrees of experience and technical knowledge. Appointment to either specialist or non-commissioned officer status was determined by military occupational specialty (MOS). Different military occupational specialties had various transition points. For example, in the band career field (excluding special bands at D.C. and West Point), a bandsman could not achieve non-commissioned officer status until pay grade E-6 was attained. In some military occupational specialties, a soldier was appointed either a specialist or non-commissioned officer depending on which particular position or "slot" that he filled in his organization. A cook was a specialist, while a mess steward held the rank of sergeant (E-5 through E-7). Specialist grades paralleled the corresponding grades of non-commissioned officer (E-4 through E-7) only in terms of pay. The specialist grades, although they outranked the enlisted grades (E-1 to E-3), were outranked by all non-commissioned officers (E-4 to E-9) and lacked the authority conferred on an NCO. This is the major differentiation between a specialist and a "hard striper". When the so-called "super grades" (E-8 and E-9) were introduced in 1958, the specialist grade titles were changed to specialist four through specialist seven, and the new grades specialist eight and specialist nine were added. The Medal of Honor was awarded to SP4 Michael J. Fitzmaurice by President Richard Nixon at the White House, October 15, 1973. Only the lowest specialist grade survives today, as the higher grades were gradually phased out. Specialist 8 and specialist 9 were eliminated in 1968. specialist 7 was abolished in 1978 and specialist 5 and specialist 6 in 1985. At that time, the rank of specialist 4 simply became known as "specialist," which is how it is referred to today. While the official abbreviation was changed from "SP4" to "SPC" upon the elimination of the SP5 and SP6 ranks, the SIDPERS database was initially authorized to continue using SP4 until such time as the change could be made at little or no additional expense in conjunction with other system upgrades. The continued use of SP4 on automatically produced documents (transfer orders, leave and earnings statements, unit manning reports, inter alia), hampered the adoption of the new abbreviation (and, to a lesser extent, the absence of "-4" in the non-abbreviated rank) by individual soldiers who viewed the computer-produced documents as the final word on what the proper term was. While uncommon, SP4 is still used. One reason for the continuance of the use of the "4" is that some soldiers see the SPC as looking too similar to SFC, sergeant first class, and the "4" differentiates it better. Nevertheless, SPC is the Army's official abbreviation. Today, the rank of specialist is the typical rank to which privates first class are promoted after two years of service, although PFCs may be waived into the rank of specialist after 18 months' time in service and six months' time in grade. It is granted far more often than corporal (E-4), which is now reserved for personnel who have either passed the Basic Leader Course or have been assigned low-level supervisory duties (with two or more soldiers under direct command). Specialists were informally called "specs" (pronunciation IPA: /ˈspɛk/ ) plus the numerical grade of their rank. Thus, a specialist 4 was called "spec 4".