LANDSTUHL, Germany --- Soldiers from Public Health Command Europe, Dental Health Command Europe and U.S. Army Europe Medical Materiel Center Europe crossed the threshold from junior enlisted to noncommissioned officers during an NCO Induction Ceremony Jan. 31 at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center Chapel.

One corporal and 16 sergeants accepted their new duties and responsibilities with honor as each one walked through the NCO arch and crossed sabers to officially become a member of the NCO Corps.

The ceremony emphasizes the significance of becoming a sergeant and moving on from follower to leader and keeps the Army tradition alive. As NCOs, these Soldiers become leaders who are charged with passing on their knowledge to junior Soldiers. They pledge to bear the standards, uphold core values and commit to being professionals who maintain a keen focus on the accomplishments of the mission and the welfare of their Soldiers, no matter the circumstances.

"It really is meaningful for the Soldiers," said PHCE Sgt. Maj. Brett Long. "The NCO induction builds on the pride we all share as members of such an elite corps. The ceremony should also serve to honor the memory of those men and women of the NCO Corps who have served with pride and distinction. The NCO Corps is the backbone of the Army."

Prior to the new sergeants' induction, a candle-lighting ceremony took place symbolizing an important part of military history and the NCO Corps. Three candles were lit -- red for valor of the NCO, white for purity, honesty and integrity and blue for the field of honor. In unison, the NCOs attending the ceremony recited the NCO Creed.

"The Noncommissioned Officer is the guardian of standards," said Sgt. Amanda Blakely. "We, as NCOs, need to ensure Soldiers are properly trained. We need to train our Soldiers to take our place as someone trained us. We set the standard for us and junior Soldiers."

Public Health Command Europe NCOs inducted during the ceremony were Sgt. Toni Weaver, Sgt. Dominique Williams, Sgt. Claude Zouhon, Sgt. Kristopher Sumner, Sgt. Diane Cadet, Sgt. Bryan Caulkins, Sgt. Aymar Assovie, Cpl. Kevin Kemp, Sgt. Daryl Savage, Sgt. Amanda Blakely, Sgt. Lamar Hill, Sgt. Joseph Stewart, Sgt. Maria Bravo, Sgt. Markel McKee, Sgt. So Hinman, Sgt. Dion II Richardson, from Dental Health Command Europe, and Sgt. Haley Jackson, from USAMMCE.

The U.S. Army Noncommissioned Officer Corps can trace its history back to 1775 and the birth of the Continental Army. The Army's NCO Corp is at the tip of the spear making strategic decisions that have major impacts. Today's NCO Corps is a blend of traditions of the French, British and Prussian armies into a uniquely American institution.