By Staff Sgt. Neysa CanfieldMarch 30, 2018
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- When U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Marcus P. Levering, a native of Clarksville, Tennessee, raised his right hand and repeated the oath of enlistment, he wasn't just making the Army his career -- he was also continuing his father's legacy.
Friends and leaders gathered March 17 to watch as Levering, religious affairs noncommissioned officer in charge, Train, Advise, and Assist Command-South and 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, re-enlisted in the Army for the final time.
The Army's Noncommissioned Officer Career Status Program, formally known as the Indefinite Reenlistment Program, allows enlisted Soldiers starting at the rank of staff sergeant with 12 or more years in service who are eligible to re-enlist to sign for an indefinite period, according to the official Army Reenlistment page.
Growing up, Levering was exposed to the military, especially through his father, Mark Levering, who served in the Army for 22 years as a motor transport operator.
But it wasn't until the tragedies that occurred on September 11, 2001 that Levering felt it was time to serve his country.
"My dad was stationed at Fort Stewart at that time and I was a freshman in high school," said Levering. "Hearing what had happened really pissed me off and after reading a book called 'The Purpose Driven Life' I thought, what better way to serve God and my country than by becoming part of the Chaplain Corps."
After graduating from Ridge View High School in Columbia, South Carolina, Levering enlisted in the Army as a religious affairs specialist on July 7, 2005.
"It was kind of a surprise when Marcus enlisted," said Mark. "I was never the type of father to push the military on my son but one day he came home and said 'I joined the Army as a [religious affairs specialist] and I'm leaving for basic training.'"
Now, almost 13 years later, Mark said he is full of pride for the decisions his son has made and for witnessing his son make the Army his career, as he once did.
"I was gone an awful lot during my career but I owe my wife the upmost gratitude because the man Marcus is today has a lot do with his mother," said Mark.
As for Levering, what made the ceremony even more significant was conducting his last re-enlistment as a 4th Infantry Division Soldier.
"A lot of Soldiers want to be in the 82nd or the 101st but not me," said Levering. "I have always wanted to be a 4th Infantry Divison Soldier, just like my dad once was."
Mark was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division as his first assignment in the Army and deployed with them almost 30 years ago. "It's emotional to see that my son was able to take it back to where it all started for me," he said.
With Levering having seven years left to complete his 20 years of service in the Army to become retirement-eligible, his father had some words of wisdom.
"I want him to stay true to who he is and never forget where he came from," said Mark. "As a noncommissioned officer his job is to teach, coach, and mentor and I want him to never forget those words from the NCO Creed."
With his father's advice, Levering said he wants to be that positive mentor for the younger generation of religious affairs specialists.
"I had some good and some bad leadership," said Levering. "I want to be that good leader for my Soldiers and pass on my experience so they don't have to go through the rough times I went through."
As a retired Sgt. 1st Class, Mark said he can't wait to see the things his son will accomplish in the next chapter of his career.
"(Marcus) has come a long way in his career but I know regardless of how hard it gets he won't give up," said Mark. "It's emotional seeing that my son is following in my footsteps. He is a great NCO and I can't wait to see him when he comes home from this deployment.
"Marcus has come a long way in his career but I know regardless of how hard anything gets he won't give up because I will always be here for him."