FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- As a fitting end to the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer, five Headquarters and Headquarters Company Soldiers were inducted into the NCO Corps Dec. 16 at the Army Medical Department Museum.

The five Soldiers were Sgts. Justin Baker, Gerardo Llamas-Miranda, Jonathan Ramirez, Sobner Saint-Dic and Matthew Williams.

NCOs are often referred to as the "backbone" of the Army. Since 1775, the Army has set apart its NCOs from other enlisted Soldiers by distinctive insignia of grade.

"Today you are going from the ranks of being a junior enlisted Soldier to being a junior leader," said Commander Sgt. Maj. Stephen Paskos, commandant, Army Medical Department Noncommissioned Officers Academy and guest speaker for the ceremony.

"Leadership is developed through experiences," he explained. "What's going to make you an effective leader is watching great noncommissioned officers and leaders.

"Watch your leaders and see which of their attributes appeal to you, if you encounter someone who is not an effective leader you should learn from that experience too," he told the Soldiers.

Paskos outlined what qualities he thought an NCO should possess.

"The first thing I think a strong leader has is a strong work ethic," he said.

"We have our Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage; and you recognize leaders who live by those values."

Paskos explained to the new NCOs the importance of drawing a line between being a leader and a friend.

"Competence is our watchword," he said. "Job proficiency is critical and building teams is probably the most critical thing that a leader has to do throughout their military career."

"Last, you need to have balance in both monitoring yourself and your ability to perform as a leader. A leader has to be able to recognize [his or her] own limitations," he explained.

"Being an NCO means you are responsible for yourself and your Soldiers; making sure they are doing the right thing at all times," said Sgt. Justin Baker.

"Our newly inducted NCOs had a great CSM, Command Sgt. Maj. Paskos, as their guest speaker. He talked to them about the importance of discipline and standards, which is critical to the balance they must show the troops under them," said U.S. Army Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Houston.

As part of the ceremony the Soldiers passed through velvet ropes representing their passage into the NCO Corps. Each of the Soldiers signed the NCO Charge along with Houston. The Soldiers also received a copy of the NCO Creed and the NCO Guide.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Spangler from the Fort Sam Houston Audie Murphy Club led the troops in reciting the NCO Creed.

"We insist Soldiers must live the NCO and Soldiers creeds, every day," Houston said.
"Live by the NCO Creed on a daily basis and you will be spot-on," Paskos said.