Values ceremony marks Soldier milestone
June 13, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- A towering bonfire in the center of the Company B, 795th Military Police Battalion's formation lit the Soldiers' faces -- their eyes filled with pride, many of them with tears as they completed their 9-week journey from civilian to Soldier at a Values Tag
"I have never been a part of something so strong. I feel proud. It's the best feeling ever," said Pvt. Ashley Anderson, 795th Military Police Bn. "Basic Combat Training was hard, but it was so worth it."
In the Value Tag Ceremony, seven Core Army Values are highlighted as they are what being a Soldier is all about: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.
"The Values Ceremony is when we welcome them as Soldiers in the U.S. Army. This is the final portion -- the grand finale of Basic Combat Training. They will not be civilians anymore. This is their final step to becoming a Soldier," said Staff Sgt. Jason Coffey, 795th Military Police Battalion drill sergeant. "We gave them their values tags during the ceremony, the tags are something these Soldiers will hold close to their hearts for the rest of their lives."
Eight rocks shaped the area where the rows of Soldiers stood. One stood for Warrior Ethos and the rest were value rocks. Each rock was lit by a single torch and had a Soldier standing beside it -- chosen to recite it's definition and tell personally what the value meant to them. Pvt. Brett Mancini had Selfless Service.
"To me Selfless Service means putting the welfare of the nation, the Army and my subordinates before my own without any expectations for award," Mancini yelled across the rows of his peers.
Prior to the night-time ceremony, the company completed a 16 kilometer road march to Range 4, and successfully crawled through the Night Infiltration Course.
"We use the Night Infiltration Course as kind of the culminating event for their Phase III Field Training Exercise," said Lt. Col. Bryan O'Barr, 795th MP Bn. commander.
O'Barr watched as his Soldiers and drill sergeants completed the NIC. He believes it is important for him to be there to support them through their last field training exercise and the Values Tag Ceremony.
"I want to shake each one of their hands, tell them congratulations and wish them the best in Advanced Individual Training," O'Barr said.
Coffey said he was glad he was also there to guide them through their final training exercise and watch his Soldiers take part in the ceremony.
"It means a lot to me. Some of these kids had different options, they could have gone to college or joined other services, but they came here," Coffey said. "For me to watch them grow from the beginning to now is pretty amazing. I had a female that did zero push-ups when she first came here, now she is doing 28. Believe it or not, these Soldiers would run through a brick wall if you asked them to."
Now officially a Soldier, Anderson is proud to have finished Basic Combat Training alongside her new comrades and sees her life in the Army as a new beginning for her.
"We are in One Station Unit Training, so it's not exactly graduation, but it means a lot and the drill sergeants make it very special," Anderson said. "I have never really done anything with my life so far, this is definitely one of the best days of my life. We have all come so far."