Welcome to the NCO Corps
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, VIRGINIA-"Now you're an NCO - a part of the backbone of the Army. Never forget where you came from."

Those words, from guest speaker Command Sergeant Major Nathan J. Hunt III, served as a reminder to a group of recently-promoted sergeants who were welcomed as members of the Army Noncommissioned Officer Corps during the NCO Induction Ceremony held January 14 at Fort Lee's Regimental Club.

In all, 16 new sergeants from within the U.S. Army Garrison and Medical Department Activity were participants in the ceremony, which honored their achievement, but more importantly, served to convey the importance of noncommissioned officer leadership and the traditions that it holds sacred.

Hunt, the top enlisted Soldier assigned to the U.S. Army Quartermaster Center and School, said earning chevrons should never be taken lightly.

"Crossing over to the noncommissioned officer is very significant," he said after the ceremony. "Being a noncommissioned officer in today's Army means that there are many challenges, requirements ... a lot of responsibility, and it needs to be acknowledged."

When Army NCOs are promoted to corporal or sergeant, they step into another realm. They are acknowledged leaders and many become the authority at the first level of a Soldier's chain of command. When the junior NCO becomes a supervisor of personnel, their chief responsibility becomes what's commonly known as 'taking care of Soldiers' or being responsible for Soldiers' health and welfare.

"They go from being followers to leaders and from looking for examples to being examples," said Command Sergeant Major June Seay, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee command sergeant major and host of the event.

The ceremony, meant to symbolize the most important transition in a Soldier's journey, was marked with solemnness and dignity. Faint lighting gave the club's main ballroom a glow as the events unfolded.

The inductees, mostly 20-somethings, sat in the front row, postures erect and hands firmly placed in their laps. They listened to a brief history of the NCO Corps, Hunt's personal testimony of what it means to be an NCO, and witnessed the lighting of the NCO spirits. Lastly, they raised their right hands and recited the Charge of the Noncommissioned Officer.

Inductee Sergeant Ryan Martinette, a Soldier assigned to MEDDAC, said the ceremony was an occasion worthy of remembrance.

"The ceremony is a special way to keep traditions alive in the NCO Corps that aren't required," he said. "There's a lot of heritage in the NCO Corps, and it's important to maintain that heritage and know where you came from. That way you know where you're going."

Martinette also said the ceremony is more than just symbolism.

"The formal induction into the Corps is more than just status and position," said Martinette. "It's really an opportunity for you as an NCO to appreciate the gravity of what you're doing. The junior NCOs, the sergeants and staff sergeants, have an integral role in leading, guiding, and mentoring junior Soldiers to become positive and productive adults."