The 19th Engineer Battalion highlighted the importance of military traditions by hosting the second semiannual noncommissioned officer induction ceremony at Fort Knox's Sadowski Center July 20.

The battalion welcomed 28 newly promoted sergeants into the NCO corps. For enlisted Soldiers, the opportunity to become an NCO marks a significant milestone. They become leaders who are directly responsible for the training, mentoring and welfare of their Soldiers. The ceremony reflected the long history and traditions of noncommissioned officers as the backbone of the Army. The members of the color guard wore uniforms from each era of the Army's history from the American Revolutionary War through the present day.

Command Sgt. Maj. Llirenelli Mari officiated the ceremony along with the battalion's first sergeants, including 1st Sgts. Gregory Lehman, Headquarters and Headquarters Company; Krystof Grochala, Forward Support Company; Eric Bladow, 15th Engineer Company (Horizontal); Stefan Libowsky, 42nd Clearance Company; Phillip Goddard, 76th Engineer Company (Vertical); Adam Walsh, 541st Engineer Company (Sapper); and Sgt. First Class Michael Anderson, the battalion operations noncommissioned officer in charge.

Mari broke precedent by using a young guest speaker who was internal to the battalion. She selected Staff Sgt. Matthew Marshall, the Fort Knox NCO of the Year and a member of the Forward Support Company, to serve as the ceremony's guest speaker in order to inspire young NCOs by challenging them to rise to leadership opportunities such as public speaking. Marshall's speech was themed "Opportunity" and he shared with the newly promoted NCOs how he sought opportunities in his last six years in the Army.

"I stand here before you today because of opportunities that have been given to me and because of opportunities that I sought out, especially in the last year that I have been a part of this battalion," he said.

He explained how those opportunities allowed him to win several boards and get promoted. Additionally, during his speech he emphasized that changing his attitude and being given a second chance enabled him to succeed in his career.

Following the speech, each NCO walked through the battalion's NCO arch and was welcomed into the NCO Corps by the company first sergeants, Marshall and Mari. The inductees then recited the NCO Charge in which they accepted responsibility for all the actions of their subordinates. All NCOs in attendance then recited the NCO Creed.

Sgt. Pedro Leon, Forward Support Company, one of the NCOs inducted during the ceremony, offered advice to junior-enlisted Soldiers who aspire to become NCOs. He advised that the best leaders are true to themselves and their subordinates.

"Just be yourself, don't be a wannabe and just mimic others," he said.

Each newly inducted NCO received a Noncommissioned Officer Guide and a certificate with the NCO Creed, to remind them of their new roles as leaders in the Army.