Command Sgt. Maj. Hector G. Marin assumed the top enlisted position at Aberdeen Proving Ground in 2007. A seasoned senior noncommissioned officer who served combat tours in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, Marin now serves as the right-hand man to the installation commander, Maj. Gen. Paul S. Izzo.

Marin said he is proud of the fact that 2009 has been named the Year of the NCO by Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and that he is proud of the installation's Year of the NCO kickoff ceremony that was held at the Aberdeen Area Recreation Center Feb. 24.

"Our ceremony was an outstanding and dignified way to kick off the Year of the NCO," Marin said. "The way it was done really dignifies the meaning, and it makes the community aware of the sacrifices NCOs have made over the years."

A uniform pageant during the program consisted of NCOs modeling Army uniforms worn during the nation's conflicts - from the Revolutionary War to present. Marin called the pageant "a display of our contributions for the freedoms the nation enjoys today."

"Right now NCOs are patrolling the streets of Baghdad or the mountains of Afghanistan to ensure the safety of our nation," he said. "After seven years of our nation being at war, I see this as a statement that says NCOs are competent and can be relied upon to get the job done. It's truly a reward to our NCO Corps and our Families who have also made sacrifices."

Comparing the NCOs of the 1980s to today, Marin said the Corps has become the best educated and technically proficient it has ever been.

"There are a lot of us out there with associate, bachelor and even masters degrees," he said. "Considering the highly technical weapons and systems we give our Soldiers in today's battlefield they have to be smart and educated. That's just a sample of the type of NCOs we have in our Army today. Our officers think highly of our NCO Corp and they depend on us to get the task done."

Marin commended APG Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Pedro Rodriguez for "rallying the forces" to present the Year of the NCO Kickoff and said the installation will continue to hold observances honoring the Year of the NCO throughout 2009.

"We will continue to hold more events to capture all the stories of what our NCOs are doing so that in the future we can reflect on the contributions of today's Warfighters," he said. "Like those who came before us, we are dedicated to providing the nation with an Army they can be proud of."