CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq - Sgt. Erica Rinard, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 185th Armor Regiment, 16th Sustainment Brigade, said Soldier care is an important facet of leading Soldiers.

"Soldier care is the key to being a good NCO; gain the respect of your enlisted personnel and, only if they show you the same respect, in turn, will you have succeeded as a good NCO," said Rinard.
"I look to all my leaders and mentors, even the ones that fail, so in turn I know what makes and breaks the 'Backbone of the Army.'"

Sgt. 1st Class John Lee, Rinard's supervisor and motor sergeant, Co. C, 1st Bn., 185th Arm. Regt, said she is always there for other Soldiers. "Sergeant Rinard helps others in the section by being a sounding board for the Soldiers," Lee said.

"She is always willing to lend an ear or shoulder. She takes the time to be a leader, mentor, and friend. Her dedication to work inspires others to do their best and strive for excellence." Rinard, a Victorville, Calif., native who works as a tank mechanic at Fort Irwin, Calif., and an Active Guard Reserve Soldier said many NCOs have shaped her career and made her who she is today.

She also credits her grandfather. "I've met a number of extraordinary NCOs that have made an impact on my life, but hands-down it would have to be my adoptive grandfather Lynch, a former staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, who served in World War II was a member of a bomber crew that was shot down behind enemy lines and held captive as POW," Richardson said.

"Till his passing in 2007 he remained an active retired member of the Air Force. To have served and continued to serve after retirement to me justifies honor and valor to one's country.

The athletic NCO said she brought her competitive drive with her into the military. Rinard accomplished a personal goal when she won "best overall" in a bodybuilding contest judged by Billy Blanks, creator of Tae Bo, held at COB Speicher, April 25.

"It was a personal accomplishment, I was out to beat myself and no one else," said Rinard after the contest. Rinard said the Army's Year of the NCO was about living up to the NCO Creed.

"It is my duty to know and recite the NCO Creed, word for word, either from memory or read," said Rinard. "It is a requirement of an NCO, and to be honest with you, I don't remember it line for line, but I do know how to live it.

And that there is what it takes to be a leader. If an NCO can live and abide by that simple task then every year is NCO Year." She said she has also learned to be flexible in her Army National Guard career.

Rinard entered the Army as a unit supply specialist, but worked as an assistant retention NCO at her first duty assignment. She volunteered for a deployment and crossed trained to work as a motor transport operator, then took a job as a light-wheeled vehicle mechanic when she returned from the deployment. She now works as a Standard Army Maintenance System - Enhanced (SAMS - E) clerk.

"I've been able to adapt to the constant change of learning new work-related traits not pertaining to my MOS," said Rinard. Rinard said not to worry about things, but to enjoy life. "You can plan life to the fullest and stress over your shortcomings when those goals are never met," said Rinard.

"I'm a firm believer that you never know what's going to happen in life, and that the best thing to do is live life to the fullest and embrace all negative and positive impacts that may come. Even though the negative seems to outweigh the positive in most cases, 'What else are you going to do''"