The U.S. Army Materiel Command Band performed "Esprit de Corps," a music and video tribute to the Noncommissioned Officer at the Aberdeen Proving Ground Post Theater May 15.

2009 has been declared the year of the NCO by Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey Jr. and Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth O. Preston. This year of emphasis spotlights the role of the NCO in the Army. One of the reasons for the initiative is to recognize the contributions that NCOs have made in the past and currently make every day.

The program featured solos by NCOs in the AMC Band, while profiles highlighting their achievements since enlisting in the Army showed on the screen.

The AMC Band is under the command of Chief Warrant Officer 4 Frederick L. Ellwein. Sgt. Maj. Wendy Thomson, band leader, conceived, produced and conducted the concert. Sgt. Samuel Yoo narrated the event.

U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's Command Sgt. Maj. Hector G. Marin provided welcoming remarks. He said that NCOs have made great contributions in the Army.

"Throughout the Army's history, whenever tactics or technologies have changed, the role of the NCO has also changed," he said. "As the battlefield became more and more decentralized, NCOs were asked to step up and take on more leadership duties."

Marin said that the roles have come into clearer focus since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
"Our enemies know they have no hope in surviving a head-to-head battle with our Army, so instead they specialize in attacking small teams, convoys and isolated outposts." Marin said that this means that NCOs are often the senior leaders during those types of encounters, and they are ready for the challenge.

"Despite the sacrifice, our Soldiers and Families continue to sign up and keep serving our nation," Marin said. "That says a lot about the Army's strength--a strength that comes from our values, from our warrior ethos and from NCO leadership."

Marin added that he thinks that NCOs are the Army's secret weapon.

"Armies around the world want to find out how to make their sergeants like our sergeants, and you can bet our enemies know how good our sergeants are," Marin said. "Our NCOs are something of a secret to the American public. This is something we need to change during the Year of the NCO. The NCO Corps has more than two hundred years of service and has distinguished itself as the most accomplished group of military professionals in the world."

The first song of the night was "American Visions" by Travis J. Weller, accompanied by a pageant of Soldiers dressed in uniforms from the past showing the history of the Army through costume.
After a bass trombone solo by Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Davis, there was a set of rock and pop songs led by Sgt. 1st Class Stephen J. Spohn, last year's NCO of the Year.

During "Citizen Soldier" by 3 Doors Down, a video was played honoring the work that Soldiers do on a daily basis. The concert concluded with three patriotic songs, "We Were There," "When You Are a Soldier" and "America the Beautiful" featuring vocalists Sgt. 1st Class Deborah Levine, Yoo, Sgt. Anthony Gentilo and Sgt. Ericka Escalante.

After the concert, Master Sgt. Rebecca Booker, an NCO who works at the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, said that she enjoyed the concert.

"I greatly appreciate that the Army is recognizing NCOs this year, and I think APG is doing a great job of having events to recognize our achievements. It makes me proud to be an NCO," Booker said. "I felt like the music that they chose really appealed to the audience."

Booker continued that she felt like the program was a fun and entertaining way to educate the young Advanced Individual Training Soldiers of the roles and responsibilities of an NCO.

"The young Soldiers are our future NCOs," she said. "The rank of an NCO is something they can look forward to achieving."

The program was organized to not only entertain but also to educate the audience about the role of the NCO and to inspire said Thomson.

"I am proud of the work of the NCO Corps, and we wanted to let Soldiers know that they are appreciated," Thomson said.