GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- The 7th U.S. Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy (NCOA) celebrated its 60th Anniversary on Oct. 17. The 7th Army NCOA Warrior Leaders Course has the unique distinction of being the first and oldest NCO academy in the United States Army.
"Without question, this is the United States Army's oldest noncommissioned officer training institution," said Command Sgt. Maj. Hu Rhodes, commandant of the 7th Army Noncommissioned Officers Academy. "This is the premier warrior leader course and has been training NCOs for 60 years."
The 7th Army NCOA has trained thousands of NCOs since the doors opened on Oct. 17, 1949, but not all from the United States. One unique distinction of the 7th Army NCOA is that it is one of the only academies that routinely trains with joint and multinational partners helping to build long-lasting relationships.
"For sixty years, we have trained students of our allied partners in both Europe and Africa by teaching them the leadership skills to help strengthen their NCO Corps," said Rhodes.
During the ceremony, Sgt. Maj. Darius ZaGara, command sergeant major for the Joint Multinational Training Command, accompanied Rhodes while presenting a streamer on the academy color commemorating 60 years of professional institutional instruction.
Rhodes then presented each company with a streamer signifying the academy's recognition as an "academy of excellence," adjudicated by the United States Army's Training and Doctrine Command and Sergeants Major Academy.
"I graduated back in 2000 and I thought this institution of training was excellent then," said Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Beckman, the newly selected Department of the Army's Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, and current senior small group leader at the academy. "Now that I am actually a part of it helping this institution achieve an excellence rating, it makes me feel great, especially as large an organization as this is."
Beckman was also on hand to help bring back an old tradition at the academy. On this 60th anniversary day, Beckman presented the academy with a "swagger stick," which from this point on will be bestowed on the distinguished honor graduates of each course as a gift of recognition.
"The future is out there, in the ranks standing among the students," said Rhodes and pointing to the current class of students standing in formation. "This academy will always strive to set the conditions for the next generation of NCOs to be greater than we are."