CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE Q-WEST, Iraq - For Sgt. Carlos A. Santiago, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., re-enlisting in front of the 16th Sustainment Brigade headquarters here, March 18, was one he wouldn't forget.

The ceremony was memorable because he was re-enlisting on his birthday, and also the Army's "Year of the NCO."

"Re-enlisting during the 'Year of the NCO' is significant to me because the NCO is the backbone of the Army, providing motivation, purpose, and direction to the Soldier and guidance and support to the officer," Santiago said. "Doing so on my birthday was just icing on the cake. How many people can say they did that'"

Santiago, a human resources noncommissioned officer for the 16th Sust. Bde., said, the opportunity to serve and lead Soldiers was a prime factor in his decision to reenlist for six more years. He has mentored and supervised five Soldiers since becoming a sergeant in October 2007.

Santiago said communication is the key with Soldiers.

"Communications is the basis of any relationship," Santiago said. "If you don't establish communication, things won't be as easy further down the line."

Soldiering is in the Family for Santiago, whose father, Juan Antonio Santiago III, served in the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea.

"Originally I was completely against the Army," Santiago said. "But I wanted to better myself and I looked to my father for inspiration. He's proud of me, he told me. I don't think he thought I'd do something like this."

Ultimately, Santiago said, he serves in the Army for his wife, Audrey, and two daughters.

"I re-enlisted for my family," Santiago said. "If I didn't have them, I don't know where I'd be. I've done it this long, why not try it a little longer'"