FORT RILEY, Kan. – The 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley hosted its ‘Big Red One Year of the NCO’ opening ceremony, Feb. 16, 2023, at the division’s Victory Hall headquarters building.
The ‘Big Red One Year of the NCO’ is a year-long campaign dedicated to the Division’s noncommissioned officers, cultivating ownership throughout the division and developing the next generation of leaders.
“I think the most important thing that sets our NCO Corps apart from any other Army in the world is the discipline, standards, and accountability that the Noncommissioned Officer Corps establishes inside of their formations,” said Maj. Gen. John V. Meyer III, the 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley commanding general.
The Army’s NCO Corps has existed for more than 200 years and Big Red One NCO’s have played a vital role in Army history, since the establishment of the 1st Expeditionary Division (later designated the 1st Inf. Div.) in 1917 during WWI.
“We’re doing the Year of the NCO so that we are better tomorrow than we are today, because we are responsible for safeguarding our country. It’s so future generations will live the freedoms that our Army provides,” said Meyer.
After two decades of prolonged combat and continued support to U.S. NATO allies in Europe, the 1st Inf. Div. dedicated this year to the NCOs and their formations who continue the legacy of the Division. By hosting quarterly signature events to gather and celebrate the NCO Corps, the division seeks to utilize the campaign to provide a venue to showcase the importance of duty, honor, and tradition.
“NCO’s take pride in themselves and are the backbone of the Army,” said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Shantese Ratledge, the 1st Inf. Div. Ready Reserve G-3 sergeant major. “With our troops, enabled by tanks and personnel, we will retain our duties and responsibilities, while fulfilling our greatest obligation as leaders and support and defend our nation.”
The ‘Big Red One Year of the NCO’ kickoff ceremony set the stage for the 1st Inf. Div.’s current leaders to remember their history and heroes, and pass on the 1ID legacy to the next generation of leaders who wears the iconic Big Red One patch.