The morning message titled, "Follow the Leader," fit right in with the theme of the day as members of the Aberdeen Proving Ground Protestant Service hailed the installation's senior noncommissioned officers during its monthly themed Sunday service May 3.

To honor 2009 being designated the Year of the NCO, the service was dedicated to the installation's command sergeants major, sergeants major and first sergeants. Chaplain (Maj.) Young Kim, deputy Garrison chaplain and pastor of the Protestant Service, opened the program with a presentation of commemorative plaques to the NCOs in attendance assisted by Chief Warrant Officer 4 Travis Ashley, 61st Ordnance Brigade.

The NCOs in attendance included Installation Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command; APG Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Pedro Rodriguez; Sgt. Maj. Osvaldo Ponzo, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine; Sgt. Maj. Juanita Krueger, 1st Area Medical Laboratory, and 1st Sgt. Tamiko Bogad, 20th Support Command.

The NCOs served as ushers, collected the offering and assisted ushers during the communion portion of the service. In addition, Rodriguez delivered the scripture reading from the book of John.
During the pastoral prayer requests, Marin asked that everyone remember not only those in uniform serving in harm's way, but the Department of Defense civilians supporting them.

"They are doing all they can to support the men and women who protect our freedom," Marin said.

Kim offered a special prayer for present and future NCOs.

"We thank you for their great leadership and sacrifices and ask that you continue to provide support for their Families," Kim said.

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Scott Weichl, CHPPM, stayed with the book of John for the morning message.
First commenting on the heavy rains that morning, Weichl said he observed a Soldier arriving soaked to the skin and that he thought to himself that in that Soldier's place he might have stayed home that morning.

He compared leadership to the biblical shepherds, and said that shepherds could not be lazy about tending their flocks and that the life of the shepherd was one of total commitment to the sheep.

"It is the shepherd's relationship with the sheep, not the sheep's relationship with the shepherd that keeps them safe," he said.

"The true shepherd cares about the sheep. That's why it's so important to remember on this Command Sergeant Major Sunday that these are the leaders who are leading our young folks - the kind of young people who will walk to church in the pouring rain. That says something not only about our Soldiers, it says a lot about our leaders."

Having recently returned from Afghanistan, Marin said the recognition NCOs are receiving in the Year of the NCO is appreciated and that he spent much of his time there talking with Soldiers serving multiple deployments in harms way and sharing their concerns about their Families.

"We have to pray for them and, as leaders, remind others that our Soldiers are out there twenty-four hours a day, serving our nation and protecting our freedom," Marin said.