SCHWEINFURT, Germany (May 1, 2014) -- Military leaders say that at the front of every mission is a noncommissioned officer.

And in front of family, friends, peers and subordinates, 26 of USAG Schweinfurt's newly promoted noncommissioned officers pledged to provide that leadership at the NCO Induction Ceremony held March 31 behind locked doors (an NCO tradition) of the Ledward Theater.

The NCO induction ceremony is an event rich in customs and traditions designed to welcome newly promoted sergeants and corporals into the ranks. The ritual of walking through an arch guarded by two NCOs with elevated cross swords formalizes each inductee's transformation from junior enlisted to NCO.

"The NCO Induction ceremony is a rite of passage for the lead Soldiers to become the leaders, so they transition from being concerned with their day-to-day activities to being concerned with the welfare of their Soldiers and Families," said the host of the event, the 72nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion's Command Sgt. Maj. Rodwell Forbes.

The guest speaker for the event, Command Sgt. Maj. Wardell Jefferson, who serves as the 7th Army NCO Academy Commandant, captured the audience's attention with a categorical comparison and contrast of the NCO who relies on hope versus the NCO who relies on engagement.

"This is your go-to NCO," he said of the latter as heads in the audience nodded in agreement.

"One day they are in the formation with the Soldiers and the next day they become a sergeant, so it is very important that we do these inductions to show there is a clear break there," continued Jefferson.

Before the conclusion of the ceremony, several junior enlisted Soldiers were granted permission to speak. Facing the group of inductees, the junior Soldiers voiced several requests indicating their thirst for leadership.

Among the requests was following: "Sergeant, train me to be a sergeant. I shall leave this Army knowing -- with my last step and my last breath -- that my fate was always safest in your hands."

From his place in the formation, Sgt. Darius Redding quickly responded, "As a noncommissioned officer I am a builder, a developer of Soldiers and as a leader I would give you my life twice to save yours."

After nearly 70 years in Schweinfurt, the U.S. Army is scheduled to close here in September 2014, but as the garrison's command sergeant major Sgt. Major Thao Kamakahi-Watson puts it, "We could not leave Schweinfurt without first paying attention to this important tradition."