SCHWEINFURT, Germany - Two new stars began shining over Schweinfurt March 5.

"I was told once there are only two ranks in the Army that wear stars. And I wasn't one of them," joked Lt. Col. Paul Fellinger, commander of the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), just before promoting two of his Soldiers to the rank of sergeant major.

"I was told that by a wise command sergeant major," he said.

Moments after being promoted at the Camp Robertson training area north of Schweinfurt today, Sergeants Major Gerard Hatley and Nuuese Passi reflected on how they got to this point.

Hatley, who will soon begin a new assignment with the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, recalled on his days in 1986 in Fort Carson, Colo.

"I learned at that point that I need to listen to my leaders, my NCOs, and learn. They taught me a lot - team leaders, squad leaders, platoon sergeants," he said, also crediting his schooling along the way with his advancement to be counted among the highest enlisted ranks.

"The biggest thing is to be able to listen, take orders, understand and learn from my seniors, my leaders," he said.

Passi, the squadron operations sergeant major, thought back to a retired sergeant major whom he knew as a sergeant first class.

"What I loved about his mentorship was he never raised his voice. He never was loud and in your face. He would quietly and passively chew your butt, and you wouldn't even realize it. Then when you walked away, you're just like, 'What just happened''"

In a room full of officers and senior NCOs, Passi was joined by an old friend with whom he served in Company C, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in the late 80s.

"We weren't shooting for the stars. We were just, 'Hey, I'm going to get good at what I am right now,' and lo and behold, good things happen," said Command Sgt. Maj. Nicholas Rolling, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, who mad the trip from Vicenza, Italy, for the ceremony.

"He's right. I never thought about that. I only thought about doing my job right, no matter what. And somehow the Army has a way of rewarding hard work and perseverance," Passi said.

Their cohorts from their days in "Hard Rock Charlie" boast at least 11 current or former sergeants major, they said.

The senior NCOs - joined also by Airborne Cavalry Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Bayless- also molded together their views on what it means to complete the mission while taking care of Soldiers.

"Mission accomplishment means taking care of Soldiers both on- and off-duty," Passi said.

Page last updated Fri March 6th, 2009 at 09:22