FORT BLISS, Texas -- Five years after retirement from active federal service Mr. John Houck, an instructor with the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy was awarded the bronze "Order of Saint Michael" medal during the Noncommissioned Officer Leadership Center of Excellence distinguished service and recognition ceremony Sept. 6 at the Cooper Lecture Center.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy J. Sellers, commandant of the NCOL CoE, has made it a priority to ensure all staff and cadre receive recognition for their accomplishments.

"It doesn't require much time or effort to award and recognize our professional Soldiers and Civilians assigned to the staff and faculty of this institution," he said. "Civilians are the continuity for many organizations throughout the Army. As a Total Army, it would be very difficult to achieve mission success without them. My philosophy is, if you take care of people, they will take care of the organization."

Houck, whose career spanned nearly 35-years, including stints in the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army, said the recognition was unexpected but much appreciated.

"For me, other than being amongst my peers, this was only the third time in my 35-year career that I was able to share such an event with my family," he said. "This brought them a lot of joy, as it did me to have them there."

"I was deeply humbled that my leadership Sgts. Maj. James Halchishick and Gabriel Arnold would go to the extent that they did in contacting the local Army Aviation Association of America chapter and submitting me for the award," he said.

Halchishick and Arnold worked for two months on the selection packet before submitting the final product to the AAAA.

"His service is a testament to not only his resilience and stamina as a service member, but also his love for our country and the pride and commitment it requires to defend our democracy that we all cherish," Arnold, Houck's supervisor, said. "Most of his service was within the Aviation community and you do not make it to command sergeant major without demonstrated excellence on a consistent basis."

Sellers, who has known Houck for more than 14-years, said he is a true professional.

"I've known Mr. John Houck since 2005, we met as students attending the Sergeants Major Academy. He was as smart, intellectual, creative, and energetic then as he is now," Sellers said. "John has always been a consummate professional who works hard to ensure he and those around him are doing their very best. If you need something done to a high standard, assign it to John. He achieves superb results every time."

Induction into the Order of Saint Michael recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to the promotion of Army Aviation in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient's seniors, subordinates, and peers.

"Receiving any recognition for me is difficult in and of itself, I would much rather be on the side that recognizes what others do and accomplish publicly, than be the one (being) recognized" Houck said. "It was an awesome honor being in front of my peers and the student body, and my core group students."

Some of Houck's accomplishments in aviation include being stationed at the Operational Support Airlift Agency at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where Houck served as the Operations Division Noncommissioned Officer in Charge. As the NCOIC he was directly involved in transitioning the Army's Fixed Wing program to better support worldwide operations in support of the continental United States and outside the continental United States overseas missions.

After graduating from Class 56, of the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, he served as the Senior Army National Guard Enlisted Advisor to the 7th Infantry Division and aided in its transition into First Army Division West. Here, he spearheaded the implementation of First Army's Observer Controller Academy to support First Army's Operational Warrior Trainer Program.

The NCOL CoE strives to ensure the most qualified individuals are serving as instructors/facilitators for our next generation of enlisted leaders.