The colors
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Though he "always stepped up when required" Master Sgt. Keith E. Wells, passed the reins to the Soldier Support Institute's Non-commissioned Officers Academy to Command Sgt. Maj. Jorge C. Escobedo during an Assumption of Commandant Ceremony Aug. 9 in the institute's auditorium.

Col. Richard Nieberding, commander of the SSI, lauded Escobedo's leadership abilities and character during the ceremony.

He said he "is always pleased to hear the great feedback" about Escobedo's character and attributes as a leader. "As I have gotten to know you over the past few weeks, I am truly impressed."

Escobedo, the academy's new commandant, has "been around for a while" Nieberding said.

He started as a 75D -- a personnel records specialist in 1994 and quickly climbed up the ranks to become first sergeant of Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 75th Ranger Battalion; senior enlisted leader of Headquarters, Headquarters Battalion 1st Cavalry Division; and command sergeant major of the USANATO brigade in Germany.

Wells, the outgoing commandant, said his time leading the academy was the pinnacle of a "Soldier's quest" to lead.

"When I took the reins on June 15, I got the keys to the course and prayed that I wouldn't wreck it," he said jokingly.

"I welcome you and your Family to our NCO Academy Family," Wells said to his new boss. Wells will continue serving at the academy as deputy commandant.

Escobedo said during the ceremony he was proud of the way Wells led the academy.

The SSI's NCO Academy traces its roots to Fort Ben Harrison, Indiana, where it trained NCOs from two branches -- Adjutant General and Finance -- as well as Soldiers from legal, public affairs and recruiting. On Jan. 9, 1995, the academy opened its doors at Fort Jackson. The academy moved from Mabry Hall (site of Fort Jackson's current headquarters) into its current building at 10000 Hampton Parkway.

"I am ready to embrace the challenge" of leading the academy, the academy's commandant said.