7th Army JMTC concludes "Year of the NCO" with culminating celebration
December 16, 2009
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (16 December, 2009) - The 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command (JMTC) officially wrapped up its year-long tribute to the non-commissioned officers (NCO) by hosting a "Year of the Non-commissioned Officer"culminating ceremony on Dec. 10 at Grafenwoehr's Tower theater.
In the beginning of 2009, Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren, announced the Army would recognize noncommissioned officers (NCO) in the upcoming year. This was the first such acknowledgement since 1989. At the JMTC, it was an opportunity to honor the NCOs who help to provide world-class training for our U.S. and multinational troops.
"As the senior enlisted leader in Bavaria, I have never been prouder in my military career than I am, today, of the level of excellence that is portrayed by each and every NCO in our Senior Mission Command," said Command Sgt. Maj. Darieus ZaGara, JMTC's command sergeant major. "They protect and defend the greatest nation on earth. They are non-commissioned officers."
Beginning and ending at the 7th Army Non-commissioned Academy, the NCOs in the Grafenwoehr military community were motivated with an early morning "fun run" prior to the start of the ceremony.
"The intent was to get together as an installation and participate in a group event that would motivate us toward an end, and that end being the culminating ceremony of the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer," said ZaGara.
The guest speaker for the ceremony was retired Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip Kiniery, a former command sergeant major of the European Command (EUCOM) and the U.S. Army's Sergeants Major Academy.
"We owe an immense debt of gratitude to our leaders, particularly the Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. George Casey, and the Sgt. Maj. of the Army, Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Preston, for their leadership and the focused investment they have made in the NCO Corps this year," said Kiniery to the audience. "Our NCO vision statement provides us our purpose, direction, and values and is still what the Army needs and expects of its NCO Corps."
The ceremony's highlight was a visual depiction of military uniforms worn by some of today's non-commissioned officers and Soldiers as they were worn during 12 distinct periods throughout the history of the NCO corps. Each Soldier replicated the poses of Soldiers in a picture commissioned by ZaGara entitled "Echoes Thru Time," which served as the backdrop on stage. Representing today's Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Beckman, the Department of the Army's Non-commissioned Officer of the Year, was the last to fill in. He expressed to the audience what it means to be an NCO.
"Our professional non-commissioned officer leaders are not just the ones who can regurgitate a creed or quote regulations and manuals. They are the ones that ask their Soldiers in the morning, "how are you' or "is everything alright", said Beckman. "If there is a problem or issue, a tried and true tested non-commissioned officer has the ability to go back and research the problem, find that Soldier resources and get them the help that they need."
Echoing similar thoughts, Sgt. Daniel Micek of the 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, and reigning 2009 USAREUR and Seventh Army Soldier of the Year, shared what his NCO means to him before leading the "Charge of the NCO."
"I believe my NCO is a mentor and a leader," said Micek. "He strives to develop me into and outstanding leader who, one day, will take his place to carry on the traditions our NCO Corps is built on."
In order to operate successfully anywhere in the world, the JMTC continues to develop leaders who are equipped with operationally relevant military and cultural knowledge. ZaGara offered his perspective on the "Year of the Noncommissioned Officer" and particularly the ceremony.
"This has been an awesome event," said ZaGara. "This is a culminating event, period. It is not the culmination of what we as NCOs have to continue to strive to do to move forward and to help our Army continue to grow."