JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – Twenty new staff sergeants and sergeants were welcomed to the U.S. Army’s Corps of Noncommissioned Officers Aug. 7 in a socially-distanced ceremony held at Evergreen Theater here.
The NCO induction ceremony is a time-honored event celebrating the promotion of Soldiers in the rank of specialist to sergeant, or the lateral appointment of specialists to corporal.
The Soldiers are all assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center and Public Health Agency-Fort Lewis, both direct-reporting units of Regional Health Command-Pacific, also headquartered at JBLM.
Attendance at the ceremony was limited to 50 people due to restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but the ceremony was streamed on social media, allowing a wider audience to participate.
Additionally, everyone in attendance wore masks, and sat apart from each other, a vacant seat between them.
The ceremony, hosted by Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Pierce, Madigan’s command sergeant major, kicked off with a benediction by Sgt. Corinna Knight and singing of the Star-Spangled Banner by Spc. Ednita Alonzo.
Command Sgt. Maj. Abuoh Neufville, RHC-P’s command sergeant major, was the event’s guest speaker.
Neufville said that as sergeants, the newly inducted NCOs are “first in line” to effect change and make on-the-spot corrections to those they lead.
“Your level of leadership is so direct, you can make things happen in a day,” he said. “You are on point. You will see things happen that you must act on. And I challenge you to do that.”
Neufville drew attention to Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael A. Grinston’s new ‘This is My Squad’ initiative, saying the initiative emphasizes positive ownership by all leaders at the squad level, beginning with the squad leader.
“There is a reason the basic unit of maneuver in Army doctrine is the squad,” Neufville said. “Due to your direct leadership, we as an Army cannot eradicate issues of suicide, sexual harassment and assault, and equal opportunity issues without you taking ownership of these challenges.”
Neufville said the new NCOs are in the right spot to help bring on change and improve the Army community.
“I miss being a sergeant, because the folks I usually touch or interact with on a daily basis are very senior,” Neufville said. “On a daily basis, you all interact at the tactical level with the specialists, the privates, PFCs, staff sergeants, and lieutenants, who form the majority of our Army. You must know what right looks like and take action to correct unethical, immoral, and unsafe behaviors.
“If you leaders get engaged in this, you could make the difference,” he said.
The NCOs, most of whom had already been promoted to sergeant or staff sergeant, were presented to the command sergeants major by their first sergeants.
In turn, each first sergeant announced their new NCOs.
“Sergeant major!” one would yell, “I have five NCOs to induct into the Noncommissioned Officers’ Corps!”
As each new NCO was announced, they walked across the stage, stepped through a wooden arch and beneath crossed sabers held by Spc. Alloysius Odogbo and Spc. Luis Ortega-Villareal, both of the Madigan Troop Battalion’s Company A.
The sergeants then crossed the stage to sign a book promising to uphold their duties and responsibilities as leaders.
After all the new NCOs had moved across the stage and received congratulations from the command sergeants major, Pierce, the MAMC command sergeant major, moved to center stage, raised his right hand, and administered the oath of the noncommissioned officer.
As he did so, each new NCO dedicated themselves to uphold the traditions, dignity and high standards of the Army’s Corps of NCOs.
Afterward, the new NCOs recited the NCO Creed, which states, “No one is more professional than I. I am a noncommissioned officer, a leader of Soldiers. As a noncommissioned officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as ‘The Backbone of the Army’.”
Earlier, Neufville, the RHC-P command sergeant major, had left the newly-inducted NCOs with a piece of advice.
“I always tell my Soldiers this: leadership is a contact sport,” he said. “As a noncommissioned officer, the significance of your engagement has greatly increased.”