HONOLULU -- With a chorus of Aca,!A"Ayes,Aca,!A? both houses of the Hawaiian State Legislature officially proclaimed 2009 as the Aca,!A"Year of the Nonommissioned OfficerAca,!A? in a ceremony held in the State Capitol Feb. 25.

In separate hearings, the Hawaii State Senate passed Resolution 28 and the State House of Representatives passed Resolution 71, becoming the first state to recognize 2009 as the Aca,!A"Year of the NCO.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"Today we are the first legislature in the nation to recognize the non-commissioned officer corps in the nation,Aca,!A? said Will Espero, State Senator and Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee. Aca,!A"Here in Hawaii, we have a strong connection with our military. They play an important role not only in our neighborhoods and communities but our state as well.Aca,!A?

Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commanding general, United States Army, Pacific; Brig. Gen. Gary Ishikawa , deputy adjutant general, Hawaii; Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph P. Zettlemoyer, command sergeant major, USARPAC; Master Sgt. Barbara Rubio, chief paralegal, USARPAC; and Sgt. Dean Rudolph, USARPAC; served as witnesses to the event and received the signed and framed proclamations after they were passed.

Aca,!A"We are honored that the State Legislators of Hawaii have put forward resolutions to proclaim, 2009 as the Aca,!A"Year of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps of the U.S. Army,Aca,!A? said Mixon. Aca,!A"The United States ArmyAca,!a,,cs noncommissioned officer corps has distinguished itself as the worldAca,!a,,cs most accomplished group of military professionals.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"The year of the noncommissioned officer was designated by the Secretary of the Army, Chief of Staff of the Army and Sergeant Major of the Army for 2009 to represent the contributions made by noncommissioned officers throughout the Army,Aca,!A? added Zettlemoyer. Aca,!A"Not just now, but for the last eight years and since the dawn of our Army in 1775.Aca,!A?

In the state capitolAca,!a,,cs rotunda, 45 non-commissioned officers from around USARPAC came to witness the event. During the House of Representatives session, the NCOs joined in to recite the NCO Creed, amazing all who were present. For most, this was the first opportunity to see the State Senate and House of Representatives in session.

Aca,!A"This event is very special to me,Aca,!A? said brand-new corporal and NCO Steven Dunn, a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic with the 205th Military Intelligence Battalion. Aca,!A"The Aca,!EoeYear of the NCOAca,!a,,c means a lot and for the state of Hawaii to recognize us and what we do in the Army.Aca,!A?

Any time we are able to recognize the outstanding and distinguished services and worth of our military, and especially of the U.S. Army, that is something that we want to do,Aca,!A? Espero added. Aca,!A"Here in our state capitol, we are happy and honored that there is a large contingency of U.S. Army personnel to celebrate with us this 2009 Aca,!EoeYear of the Noncommissioned Officer.Aca,!a,,cAca,!A?

According to the proclamation, the United States ArmyAca,!a,,cs professional noncommissioned officer corps has a proud history and has distinguished itself throughout the world as the backbone of the Army by leading the way with two tasks in mind: obeying the orders of their superior officers to accomplish the mission, and looking out for the welfare of their Soldiers.

It also stated that noncommissioned officers and their families have made daily sacrifices and exemplified courage and a deep sense of patriotism in their commitment to provide continual and invaluable service in accomplishing and contributing to our State and to this great nation, and have demonstrated their dedication and willingness to sacrifice on behalf of their fellow Americans.

Aca,!A"An NCO is not just being a leader and taking care of Soldiers,Aca,!A? said Rubio. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs the person thatAca,!a,,cs working hand in hand with the commander getting the orders out and making sure everything comes together.Aca,!A?

The co-resolution will now move forward to Governor Linda LingleAca,!a,,cs office for her signature.