GRAFENWOEHR, GERMANY - Completing her final step towards promotion to Sgt., Spc. Hope Martin, 678th Air Defense Artillery Brigade (ADA BDE), South Carolina Army National Guard, celebrates as she completes the Basic Leadership Course (BLC), Class #06-18, Grafenwoehr, Germany, May 21 - June 15, 2018.

The Seventh Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy was originally established as the United States Constabulary Noncommissioned Officer Academy and is the oldest NCO Academy in the Army. The 7th Army NCO Academy earned the recognition as an "Institute of Excellence" during three consecutive Accreditations from the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy and TRADOC.

The school was comprised of Active Component Soldiers, component one (Compo 1); and National Guard Soldiers, component two (Compo 2). Army Reserve Soldiers are considered component three (Compo 3).

"The fact that she went through successfully and graduated on the Commandants list, I think that speaks volumes about the ability for Compo 2 to interact with Compo 1 and be successful, one team one fight concept. I think that says volumes about her and her ability to incorporate into that network," boasted Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Collins, 678th ADA BDE Command Sergeant Major. "I think that says a lot about who we are and the team that is making sure she was prepared to excel in a Compo 1 setting. There was no line between the two."

Martin excelled as a student in the course making the Commandant's list which requires having a 96% average and to be in the top 20% of the class, this class had over 230 soldiers. She obtained a 98% average on her course work.

"They really stressed how to talk to people and how to encourage them the correct way and if you had to correct someone, the proper way to do this," Martin said about some of the best experiences at BLC. "I felt DNC was one of the hardest things and land navigation was challenging for me."

The Basic Leadership Course is a month-long course that teaches Specialists and Corporals the basic skills to lead small groups of Soldiers. This course is hard hitting and intensive with emphasis on leadership skills and prepares Soldiers to advance to the rank of Sergeant.

"For me as a leader, to see a soldier go through a school like that and excel the way she did, obviously it is a point of pride, for a COMPO 1 to COMPO 2 situation. I was just honored to be part of the process. That was the first graduation of one of my soldiers as the 1st Sgt. that I attended," added 1st Sgt. Carl Humphries, first sergeant of the HHB, 678th Ada BDE. "Sending her was more or less a slam dunk, knowing she would do that good."

Martin wants to give credit to her two primary instructors, Sfc. Eric Hue and Staff Sgt. Ricardo Arroyo, for being so encouraging and spending time after class with those who may have needed additional instruction towards success.

"By being successful, this will help the chance for others to go to the school while in theater. We have one soldier from the 678th ADA BDE enrolled as well as 3 soldiers from Charlie Battery, 263rd AAMDC, South Carolina National Guard. All of those soldiers will be promoted once they finish the class," adds Collins. "My goal is to get 10 soldiers through BLC before we depart the European theater."

Collins and Humphries are extremely proud of the work and success of Spc. Martin in her course and is looking forward to the success of the next group of air defenders to go to BLC while on deployment.

"Make sure you have your packing list, they are strict on that," Martin encourages the next class of air defenders. "You will be better prepared and look the part (NCO) if you have all the supplies on the list."

Other soldiers that completed BLC during this time associated with the 678th ADA BDE included; Alpha Company: Spc. Cordarren Bell, A Co/5-7 ADA BN; Spc. Tyqeze Davis, HHB/5-7 ADA BN; Spc. Juan Guzman, HHB/5-7 ADA BN; Spc. Kadisha McKenzie, HHB/5-7 ADA BN; Spc. Juan St. John, D Bat/5-7 ADA BN; Bravo Company: Spc. Charlene Brown, E Co/5-7 ADA BN; Spc. Evelin Bullard, HHB/10th AAMDC; Spc. Dominique Halton, HHB/5-7 ADA BN and Spc. Joseph Rodriguez, HHB/5-7 ADA BN.

The next course scheduled to begin on July 8, 2018, Grafenwoehr, Germany.