By Ms. Alexandra Shea (IMCOM)July 12, 2019
"Treat me with respect Sergeant. For no heart in the entire world is more loyal than the heart of an American Soldier," shouted Spc. Joseph S. Manzanares of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment.
Manzanares's word reverberated across the ballroom walls within Fort Jackson's NCO Club. His request is one of respect, guidance, patience and understanding to 20 newly-inducted non-commissioned officers all from 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment.
A Non-commissioned Officer Induction Ceremony is deeply rooted in American military history. The ceremony usually conducted just after promotion to the rank of sergeant defines and reinforces the responsibilities and duties an NCO is charged.
With today's high operational tempo, some traditional events such as the NCO Induction Ceremony have been held less often than previous years. Williams is helping to ensure the resurgence of these traditions.
"We missed the mark for almost the past 20 years," said the regiment's Command Sgt. Maj. Algrish Williams. "We've been in conflict. As we move forward, we want to bring some of these things back and make sure we do the right thing."
While most of the inductees have recently been promoted to the rank of sergeant, others inductees have already been in leadership roles for some time. To help the resurgence of the induction ceremony, these leaders who never participated in an induction ceremony due to deployments and training cycles were also formally inducted.
"Stepping from the rank of (specialist to sergeant) is a big deal. They are charged as a leader, officially," Williams said. "This is their first role as a true leader, as a non-commissioned officer. Recognize them and bring them into the fold, the right way."
Each inductee filed through a wooden arch, emblazoned with the various non-commissioned officer ranks. Each stepped forward to formally accept the role and responsibility to lead, train and care for Soldiers. Each received a framed copy of the Charge to the Non-commissioned Officer, the guidelines of their role as leaders.
"Soldiers of yesterday will envy you. Soldiers of today will want to emulate you and Soldiers of tomorrow will want to be you" said retired Command Sgt. Maj. Lamont Christian. "Continue to prepare yourself for exciting and new challenges as a non-commissioned officer."
Christian was the guest speaker for the ceremony. Known by many on-post, he has served various roles across the U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson, such as former post command sergeant major and commandant of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy. His service has made him a staple of sorts. Less likely known about Christian was how he lent his voice as the cadence caller for a drink companies' advertising campaign.
"As you navigate your way across on this winding and narrow path of service and leadership," Christian said. "Practice CPR daily -- be consistent, be professional and be relevant. Your career and organization will always survive if you practice CPR daily."
The ceremony closed with two NCOs who were recognized for their leadership and frocked to the rank of first sergeant. Light lunch and cake were served in the adjoining ballroom where the NCOs were joined by their fellow Soldiers and Family members to celebrate the inductees.
"To be honest, being a part of something like this is like no other," said Staff Sgt. Devin Mitchell, an inductee. "I worked hard for this position and I feel now like I've truly earned this position."