NCO Corps officially welcomes nine into fold
March 11, 2010
Although they already wore chevrons on their sleeves, nine sergeants were formally introduced into the NCO Corps during the 3rd Battalion, 345th Infantry Regiment\'s (3-345) NCO induction ceremony March 5 at Fort Gillem.
The Soldiers may have come from a wide background of jobs and skills, but one thing they all had in common was their status as leaders, said guest speaker Command Sgt. Maj. Marvell Dean, First Army Division-East command sergeant major.
Dean, who enlisted in 1976, became an NCO in 1979 and a command sergeant major in 2000, shared his knowledge with the inductees and all in attendance. He spoke of his experiences moving through the ranks from a "loud-mouthed" private at Fort Polk, La., to his current position and of the many people who helped him on that path.
"Every rank I earned, every step I've taken is because of the Soldiers who've taken care of me," he said. In a light moment, Dean reciprocated the care he received from others by throwing out a copy of a long speech to rely instead on a shorter version.
"Because it's Friday and I stand between you getting out of here, I'm throwing this (the speech) aside," he said.
Though good for a few laughs, the ceremony itself was serious, befitting a long Army tradition. The crossover from Soldier to NCO can be traced back to the Army of Frederick the Great of Prussia in the 18th century. During Frederick's time, the crossover required the Soldier to stand four watches, one every four days, during which time he would be visited by fellow Soldiers and presented gifts, such as beer, wine and tobacco.
Today, while the watch has been converted to crossing under an archway and reciting the NCO Creed, and the beer and tobacco have been replaced by cake, cookies and punch, the honor of the ceremony remains intact.
Although many of the honorees have already been NCOs for some time, they had not been formally introduced into the NCO Corps, said Command Sgt. Maj. Frankie Long, 3-345 command sergeant major.
"It's really for E4s and E5s, but some of these NCOs never had the chance to do it," she said, explaining many were in units that were deployed. "This is a chance to officially bring them across."
Dean took time to remind the nine honorees of how important the crossover is, stressing to them that they are now the elite of the less than 1 percent of the American population willing to serve.
"The cream rises to the top," he said. "You are the cream of the crop."
Still, Dean cautioned the NCOs not to let success get to their head.
"Don't forget where you came from. You didn't come into the Army as NCOs. You were a bonehead in someone else's eyes," he said. "People will follow you as long as you remember how to be a Soldier."
According to Dean, that means being a keeper of standards, taking care of Soldiers, remembering lessons learned and not playing favorites.
"You never know when the things you've been taught in life will come back to help you," Dean said. "This job is hard. Being an NCO is hard. You are going to be tested."