By Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Crista YazzieNovember 19, 2008
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (November 18, 2008)- A rite of passage is a ritual or ceremony signifying a transition with a new and significant change, usually associated with growing up or maturing. . Fifteen U.S. Army, Pacific Special Troops Battalion sergeants obtained this transition Nov. 17 at the battalion\'s first formal NCO induction, a traditional rite of passage over 200 years old commemorating the progression from Soldier to non-commissioned officer. The inductees were formerly inducted by Command Sgt. Maj. Alveno M. Hodge, U.S. Army, Pacific Special Troops Battalion command sergeant major, CSM Benjamin Ramos, command sergeant major. of the 45th Sustainment Brigade. "We conducted this formal induction because NCOs are truly the backbone of the Army and it is a responsibility that should not be entered into lightly," said Hodge, who conceived the event. "It is a serious step to become an NCO, you are responsible for America's most prized possessions, the sons and daughters of this country, and when you are making decisions that could impact whether a person live or die, you cannot take for granted, or think, oh, I'm just an E-5 collecting a paycheck, because it is a life-long responsibility, and that is why I lean towards the formal induction," he stated. The process of inducting, like the U.S. Army itself, has changed substantially over the past two centuries, but the intention remains the same. The ceremony traces its origins to the Prussian Army of Frederick the Great. To officially transition to NCO in the past, Soldiers were required to stand four watches on four days, during which they encountered various visits from the company first sergeant and others. Completion of the fourth and final watch signified the transition to NCO. In the old induction, the first sergeant presented wine and tobacco on a tin plate with the inductees. In today's induction, the first sergeant stands and states his sponsorship of the new NCOs. "Today, the significance of the transformation from being a junior enlisted Soldier into the NCO ranks is truly the focus, and that's what I really envision to signify that transformation," said Hodge. "It is a serious responsibility to become an NCO, it's your first step as a leader, and that's what I really want to get across to the junior NCOs, that this really begins your NCO professional development." Contemporary induction involves senior NCOs presenting the newly promoted sergeants, those inductees meeting the command sergeant major at the front of the room to sign an official document, and senior E-4s asking for guidance from the newly inducted. The ceremony also discussed the history of the NCO and finished with the inductees reciting the Creed of the Non-Commissioned Officer. Inductees were, from USARPAC Headquarters and Headquarters, Sgt. Cyd Ahmooksang, Sgt. Angelic Galarza, Sgt. Nathan Gaspar, Sgt. Mose Matautia and Sgt. Brian Novakowski; from, USARPAC Main Command Post, Sgt. Jasmar Briscoe, Sgt. Jason Heim, Sgt. Timothy Ostrem, Sgt. Joshus Peterson and Sgt. Joseph Rowser; from USARPAC Operational Command Post, Sgt. Ronnie Barnes, Sgt. Michael Bower, Sgt. Corey Edmon and Sgt. Derek Kissos. "It was good to do it with peers, so even if people were uncomfortable, we weren't doing it alone, you had your battle buddies with you," said Briscoe. "It felt good to be a part of the start of a new tradition, setting the standard by conducting the first ceremony of this kind at USARPAC." An Induction ceremony is separate from a promotion ceremony. The newest inductee was promoted October 1st, the oldest promoted June 2006. "This was the first NCO Induction ceremony I have seen, and actually didn't know they existed until Command Sgt. Maj. Hodge brought it up," said Kissos. " I felt privileged and honored to be apart of the first real NCO Induction Ceremony in the USARPAC headquarters." Other plans for re-establishing NCO traditions Hodge has planned include more NCO professional development and NCO calls. "NCO calls are something we used to do coming up in the ranks, to where maybe on a Friday afternoon, all the NCOs get together and have some bonding time doing mentoring to some of the junior Soldiers, where they can discuss issues that they're having, leadership issues and more," he said. Hodge plans on holding future induction ceremonies at least bi-annually, if not quarterly, based upon the number of NCOs promoted.