FORT IRWIN, Calif.Aca,!"Two Blackhorse SoldiersAca,!a,,c weeks of hard work came to fruition at the unveiling of the Year of the NCO Rock at the Painted Rocks at Fort Irwin, Calif., Aug. 7.More than a hundred fellow Soldiers and Family members joined the official unveiling of the rock that commemorates the year of the noncommissioned officer.Aca,!A"We have a tradition at the National Training Center of painting rocks with unit patches and insignias; symbols of pride and allegiance,Aca,!A? said Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Martinez, the Fort Irwin and National Training Center command sergeant major. Aca,!A"In celebrating one of AmericaAca,!a,,cs greatest assets, the NCO corps, the backbone of the American army, today we commemorate a painted rock to recognize 2009 as the year of the noncommissioned officer.Aca,!A?The idea to paint a rock in commemoration of the Year of the NCO came from Command Sgt. Maj. Bobby Moore, the Fort Irwin and NTC command sergeant major at the time, before his retirement. The honor to paint the rock then fell to 2nd Squadron. Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, under 1st Sgt. Astbury, were tasked to find a deliver a rock for the painting. From there, two Soldiers from F Troop, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Spc. Ryan Ferriera and Pfc. Michael Sharpe, came up with the design.Aca,!A"My first sergeant asked me if this was something that I wanted to do, I told him yes,Aca,!A? Pfc. Sharpe said. Aca,!A"Then I volunteered Spc. Ferriera because we worked so well together and I didnAca,!a,,ct want to work with anyone else.Aca,!A?The two had previously worked together for another project and wanted to team up once again. They started their work in late July and worked long 15-hour days in the scorching summer heat.Earlier this year, the Chief of Staff of the Army, General George W. Casey, the Secretary of the Army, the Honorable Pete Geren, and the Sergeant Major of the Army, Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Preston, declared 2009 as the Year of the NCO.This year, the Army will promote initiatives to enhance the NCOAca,!a,,cs education, fitness, leadership development and pride in service through the implementation of programs and policies that support the sustainment and growth of the NCO Corps.Aca,!A"With over 200 years of service, the U.S. Army noncommissioned officer corps has distinguished itself as the most accomplished group of military professionals,Aca,!A? Martinez said. Aca,!A"Historical and daily accounts of life as an NCO are exemplified by acts of courage, and a dedication and a willingness to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission.Aca,!A?This yearAca,!a,,cs theme echoed those of 20 years ago, in 1989. That year, the secretary of the Army, the chief of staff and the sergeant major of the Army, declared 1989 as the Year of the NCO. Their objective back then was to enhance both the responsibilities and the status of the NCO Corps by programs that underscore the four core roles of the NCO Corps; leader, trainer, role model and standard bearer.Aca,!A"Twenty years later we remain unparalleled by any army in the world, we are admired by our allies, and are awestricken by our adversaries,Aca,!A? Martinez said. Aca,!A"We are a corps of innovative competent professionals capable of leading, training and motivating the most diverse teams in the most unpredictable of environments.Aca,!A?Earlier this year, Casey addressed a group of senior leaders during at Sergeant Major Nominative Conference. He discussed his plan and vision for the NCO Corps and shared his thoughts on the value of NCOs.Aca,!A"There is no doubt in my mind in my mind that our Noncommissioned Officer Corps is the glue that is holding this Army together and thatAca,!a,,cs allowed us to accomplish the impossible every day,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"I can tell we wouldnAca,!a,,ct be the Army that we are today without our Noncommissioned Officer Corps, and I can tell you, I wouldnAca,!a,,ct be the officer I am today without the noncommissioned officers that trained and mentored me throughout my career.Aca,!A?After the rock was unveiled, Martinez presented the two Blackhorse Troopers with coins and thanked them personally. The Fort Irwin Sergeant Audie Murphy Club president, 1st Sgt. Catherine Harris, led the NCOs in attendance in reciting the Charge of the Noncommissioned Officer.As the first and last landmark Soldiers see as they come and go from Fort Irwin, the Painted Rocks now host a symbol as steadfast as the Noncommissioned Officer Corps itself, the Year of the NCO Rock.