Preston recognizes NCO success
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston congratulates newly inducted sergeants during the NCO Call April 16 at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum as part of his tour here.

FORT RUCKER, Ala.--Eighteen new noncommissioned officers were among those who received kudos from Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston here April 16.

Preston celebrated the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) by congratulating numerous Fort Rucker Soldiers for their dedication and accomplishments.

Two outstanding enlisted Soldiers received awards for Soldier and NCO of the Quarter that morning, and the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club inducted two new members.

With Preston looking on, Commanding General Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III awarded NCO of the Quarter to Staff Sgt. Justin Gooding, Headquarters Company (HHC), 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group.

Barclay also presented Spc. Soriama Bergantino with Soldier of the Quarter. Bergantino, who serves with HHC, 1st Battalion, 110th Aviation Brigade, said her biggest challenge in getting to this point was completing warrior tasks and the vast amount of studying and preparation required to go before various boards.

Besides the academic and physical aspects, Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Felder said what ultimately set the Soldiers apart from their peers was their outstanding dedication and commitment to positively influencing other Soldiers' lives. Barclay then inducted NCO Academy small group leaders Sgt. 1st Class Michael Newport and Sgt. 1st Class Alfredo Valdes into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, placing blue ribbon medallions around their necks.

Club inductees strive to promote greater recognition of the NCO Corps and perpetuate Army and unit traditions that contribute to espirit de corps and superior performance of duty. The club name honors Audie Leon Murphy who rose to national fame as the most decorated U.S. combat Soldier of World War II. "It's definitely an honor," Valdes said. "(Murphy was) the epitome of what an American Soldier should be."

Preston later cheered on 18 new sergeants at the Post Theater during an NCO Induction Ceremony. Many of the Soldiers being inducted said they felt the ceremony was especially significant with the highest ranking enlisted member of the Army present.

"It's a great honor (to be inducted today), especially during the Year of the NCO," said Sgt. Rhonda Wyrick, 1st Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape Detachment.

Preston later witnessed a mass reenlistment ceremony at the Soldier Service Center as 12 Soldiers recommitted their service to the Army in front of their Families. Installation Career Counselor Sgt. 1st Class Jon King said having the Sergeant Major of the Army present at the reenlistment was special and brought extra meaning to the event.

Preston ended the day by conducting an NCO Call at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum to discuss the direction the Army is headed to sustain its all-volunteer force.

He talked about deployments, dwell time upon returning from deployments, retention and issues that stress the Soldiers such as divorce and the economy. He emphasized that even with the stressors Soldiers are facing, they continue to reenlist, and young men and women are enlisting in the Army.

He said as of January, or four months into the fiscal year, the Army had met 96 percent completion of its annual retention goals. Army's highest ranking NCO also underscored the need for Soldiers to tell the American public the Army story, the opportunities the service offers and what it takes to be a Soldier.

"I need your help to help tell the Army story," he said, noting that telling the American public what Soldiers do will help generate support. Staff Sgt. Taylor Stokes, B Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment NCOIC of military justice, was among the NCOs listening to Preston.

"(It's) always an honor and privilege to see the top leadership and hear the direction they say the Army's going. (It) gives me direction on how to guide my Soldiers (in) the right direction (and) reassurance (we're) heading the right course," she said.

Page last updated Thu April 23rd, 2009 at 12:42