BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- It was fitting on the 70th anniversary of D-Day that Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 10th Mountain Division (LI), paid tribute to the NCO Corps with the time-honored tradition of welcoming in 22 new sergeants during the noncommissioned officer induction ceremony here Friday.

During more than a decade of combat, the U.S. has focused more and more on unit readiness and has started to lose the tradition and the pride that came with it, Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry Charles, HHBN's senior enlisted leader, told the group of newly promoted sergeants at the ceremony.

The ceremony was designed to celebrate newly promoted sergeants who were inducted into the ranks of the professional NCO Corps. The inductees and attendees paid homage to the fallen and those who came before them during past campaigns and conflicts.

Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Lewis, Combined Joint Task Force-10 and 10th Mountain Division (LI) senior enlisted leader, spoke to the new NCOs about his personal experience with Army leadership as a young infantryman, recounting both good and bad examples he was shown early in his career.

His speech resonated with Spc. Kyra Studevan, a tech support specialist with HHBN's Division Signal Company.

"When he spoke about the old Army and the new Army, he spoke about how leadership has changed," Studevan said.

Studevan and six other junior enlisted Soldiers were part of a segment of the ceremony called "The Soldier's Request."

For her part, Studevan stood up and recited a passage that asked her NCOs to train her "for the elements" so that she could in turn "learn to fight and win in the cold, the wet and the desert."
It was Studevan's first ceremony of that kind, and through it, she said she gained a stronger sense of pride in the corps and has further motivated her to want to join the noncommissioned officer ranks.

"I was proud and moved by the ceremony," she said.

The Soldier's requests meant a lot to Sgt. Brian Smith, a medic assigned to Operations Company, HHBN, 10th Mountain Division, who said the biggest part of why he wanted to be an NCO was to simply "make a difference" -- something he really felt he couldn't achieve in his life before joining the Army.

"As an NCO, your decisions affect other people and not just you alone," Smith said.
Smith, who pinned on sergeant in April, said he had never seen an induction ceremony before he was asked to participate, and although he had to stay up beyond his shift to participate, he was glad he did.

"It is our rite of passage," he said. "It was good that we have that type of tradition."