Sgt. Michael Zeiler, of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Armored Division, walks through an archway March 30 at Fort Bliss, Texas, to become inducted into the Noncommissioned Officer Corps.

Becoming a sergeant is more than being promoted into the NCO Corps. It's about becoming part of the backbone of the Army, setting the example for your Soldiers and taking personal responsibility for your team.

NCO induction ceremonies mark this important accomplishment and do so while steeped in tradition and esprit de corps, said 1st Sgt. Kenya King, the first sergeant for the 1st Armored Division Signal Company. King has helped plan NCO induction ceremonies at his previous and current unit and said the NCO Corps needs to go back to these traditions to instill in young Soldiers the importance of being an NCO.

"So many NCOs who scale up the ranks so fast move onto becoming officers or warrant officers because we don't have ceremonies to show how much NCOs are appreciated," King said.

There is no official regulation for NCO induction ceremonies, so many units have slight differences when conducting their own ceremonies. Some items, though, are always a part of inducting new NCOs, including NCO sponsors, a guest speaker, reciting the NCO Creed and presenting copies of The Army Noncommissioned Officer Guide, King said.

"There are a lot of variations, a lot of ways you can do an NCO induction ceremony. But when it's all said and done, as long as you have swords and a Soldier or NCO walks from one threshold to another threshold so he can see and feel the change, that's all an NCO induction ceremony needs," he said.

Though the parts of the ceremony are important, what's more important is what the ceremony says about the NCO Corps, King said.

"Tradition is a big part of it," King said. "But more than tradition, it's something that allows the NCO to see, besides the rank change, that you have formally been inducted into a group that is very unique to the Army. The NCO induction ceremony, for me, was an experience like none other. It made me feel like I was a part of an elite group of individuals."

An NCO induction ceremony is important for Soldiers, new NCOs, experienced NCOs and officers all to attend, King said.

"The NCO induction ceremony allows a Soldier to feel that they have hit a milestone, a stepping stone, in their career," King said. "All NCOs should go through an NCO induction ceremony to allow them to see actually what happens during the induction ceremony. It's also important for all the Soldiers who are watching to be able to see as well; to look on the heritage and tradition of the NCO and want to become one."

During the induction ceremony, the newly promoted sergeant is often sponsored by another seasoned NCO. This sponsor has a critical role to play, King said.

"It's not 'who you know' but 'who you grow,'" King said. "If you can take a new Soldier, a private, and walk him through the steps through the ranks of the noncommissioned officer, you have not only taken care of that Soldier but you've already prepared that Soldier to become an NCO -- not only through boards, tests, [physical training] and range qualifications, but you've also taken that ultimate step to ensure this Soldier is taken care of to become one of the elite members of the United States Army."

Page last updated Wed May 30th, 2012 at 00:00