U.S. Army South "Year of the NCO" Essay Winner
Sgt. Angelic Cruz, with U.S. Army South\'s 512th Engineer Detachment, receives a certificate of appreciation from Army South's Command Sgt. Maj. Armando Ramirez, for her winning essay on "Year of the NCO".

I am a noncommissioned officer and YES - this is my year. Every day new Soldiers are recruited into the United States Army and each year more and more become NCOs. As a brand new sergeant I realize that becoming an NCO is a great responsibility that not everyone can handle. It takes a lot of hard work, personality, and number one...character. That's why it is so important for NCOs today to set an example that everyone can be proud of, not only for our Soldiers but for our family, friends, and of course our country.
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene C. McKinney said "The NCO creed... is my rock and should be the foundation on which all NCOs build their two ideals- leadership and professionalism."
As I take on my role as a noncommissioned officer I think about what the NCO creed means to me. It reminds me that leading Soldiers is my job and without me it can't be done. It sets a standard of professionalism and principals that instill values as well as conditions me as a Soldier. The creed reminds me of why it is so important to know my job because by mentoring, training, and providing purpose to my Soldiers we together can accomplish any mission. As a leader I owe it to my Soldiers to provide them with a nurturing environment. One they can feel comfortable in and trust; an environment that provides discipline, respect, and personal growth every day. I will be effective in accomplishing all of my tasks and duties so our officers have the resources and information they need to command. They will then be able to have all the time necessary to make the right decisions.
"Identifying good Soldiers - potential leaders - and turning them into good noncommissioned officers is a complex process. The bottom line is simple, however: weed out the poor performers, teach the right Soldiers the right things and recommend the best Soldiers for promotion and retention. The only way to prepare good Soldiers to become noncommissioned officers is to place them in the leadership positions and increase their responsibilities according to their ability. This process takes time and patience....Noncommissioned officers make noncommissioned officers," - Sgt. Maj. of the Army Glen E. Morrell
As I read each paragraph of Sgt. Maj. of the Army Morrell's quote, I look back to the NCOs I had as a Soldier. If it weren't for them seeing my potential as a leader and allowing me a chance to take on different responsibilities of a NCO, I know I wouldn't be in the position I am today. Leaders don't just happen they are reflections of a leaders hard work, dedication, and respect towards others. An NCOs job is tough but as long as we continue to have good leaders our Soldiers will take suit. Becoming a leader is not just a job, it's a lifestyle. We need to live by the army values not only at work but at home too.
I am proud and honored to be a member of this time honored corps of noncommissioned officers. I know that I can help find and enhance the potential in our nation's Soldiers just as my NCOs did for me. This in turn will give them the power to become great leaders in the future. That's what our job is as an NCO. We take our Soldiers under our wings, show them how to train, lead, and earn the respect of others so that every year is the "YEAR OF THE NCO!"

Works Cited

SMA Gene C. McKinney, "Our Army - In Touch with America." ARMY, OCT 1995, p.33
SMA Glen E. Morrell, "NCOs Are the 'Vital Link in the Chain of Command.'" ARMY, Oct 1985, p.64

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