NCOs, Army Reserve honored in display
July 16, 2009
- 2009-The Year of the Noncommissioned Officer
The Army Reserves and the Army NCO - both are vital to creating the world\'s greatest military fighting force.
To honor both groups, the U.S. Army Reserve Command National Museum of the Army Reserve staff has created a display in the USARC Headquarters building that highlights their contributions to America's military excellence.
The display, titled "Right Arm: NCOs and the Army Reserve," is located on the building's first floor, near the stairwell and in the changing exhibit hall.
The space, which is changed yearly by the USARC museum staff, was chosen to house artifacts detailing Army Reserve NCOs because of the 2009 Army Year of the NCO program, said Chris Ruff, USARC National Museum of the Army Reserve deputy curator.
With the contributions of NCOs being celebrated this year, the choice of what to use the display for this year seemed easy, said Ruff. The difficulty came in determining what to put into the limited space from the Reserve's 101 years of service.
"We have a lot of great NCO items," Ruff said, adding such items have come from a variety of sources: deployed military historical detachments, captured equipment and uniforms and donated materials from actual servicemembers and their families. In choosing what to display, Ruff said the staff looked for items from major conflicts dating from World War I to present overseas operations.
Items highlighting prominent Army Reserve NCOs, such as Lists of Medal of Honor recipients, and uniforms and ranks showing the evolution of the NCO, were also chosen.
"This is just a sample of (the) artifacts we have," Ruff said, adding some artifacts may be changed throughout the year.
This will not only show more items, but will also serve to increase the lifespan of items, he said. Although Ruff said the artifacts on display are preserved as well as possible and are contained in controlled cases on acid-free paper and other inert materials to prevent decay.
They are also checked daily by museum staff, and some objects are rotated out to prevent potential damage from long term exposure.
Preservation is important because the artifacts belong to the American people and are necessary in educating them on the importance of the Army Reserve and its NCOs, said Ruff.
The Army Reserves, officially created in 1908 but with a history that extends much further back (a history that can be seen in the USARC National Museum of the Army Reserve), has had a great importance on the success of the U.S. Army, Ruff said. Ruff, who started his current position in November 2008, said that he is finding new information every day.
"I'm always learning, seeing how prominent the battle history of the Army Reserve has been," he said. Sgt. Maj. Mark Papenfuss, operations sergeant major to the command sergeant major of the Army Reserves, agreed with Ruff, stating the Army Reserve serves as theater enablers in current operations.
With most active duty and National Guard brigade combat teams not staffed with special skill sets, such as psychological operations, civil affairs and route clearance operations, among others, these BCTs need to rely on the skills of the Army Reserves, most of which are performed by the Reserve NCO, he said.
"Many projects over the last year or two in Iraq in local communities were done by groups of NCOs working in partnership with Iraqis, building relationships. Our NCOs are at the local level taking on projects, training and supporting the Iraqis to maintain the infrastructure we take for granted," Papenfuss said, noting that all five Silver Star recipients in the Army Reserve are NCOs.
"Theater projects are being built by Army Resevre engineers with NCOs leading the way."
In modern times, Ruff said the Army Reserve also fulfills logistic roles, combat support and combat service support necessary to overseas operations. In this sense, the Army Reserves is like the Army NCO in that it fulfills many roles and functions necessary to ensure success, he said.
"I'd like them (viewers of the display) to get a feel (of) how important NCOs are in the daily running of the Army and Army Reserves," Ruff said.
It is a story Papenfuss said, unfortunately isn't getting told well in American media or is often ignored by the local population as they focus on issues closer to home like the economic crisis. "Less than 1 percent (of Americans) chose to put their life on the line so the other 99 percent can enjoy their freedom," Papenfuss said.
Of that 1 percent of the population choosing to serve, many are policemen, doctors, teachers and other community leaders who serve in the Army Reserves, many bringing these special skills into service while serving as NCOs, he said. Approximately 20,000 NCOs of those who are deployed overseas are supporting operations as units, with thousands of others deployed as individuals, augmentees or volunteers, Papenfuss said.
"What we do we've been very successful with so we're in high demand. That's why we keep getting called back," he added. The display of medals, photos and accompanying explanations is just a small step taken to help tell that story, the first of many planned to display the accomplishments of Army Reserve NCOS, Ruff added. "We plan to do more to feature and highlight the NCO in the future," Ruff said. "This is just the nucleus of what will be a larger display eventually."