COB BASRA, Iraq - Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Fires Brigade, newly promoted to the rank of sergeant, commemorated the rite of passage and honored the memory of prior noncommissioned officers in an NCO Induction ceremony at the Contingency Operating Base chapel May 31, 2010.

Sgt. Carlos Macias-Ramirez of Las Cruces, N.M., a team leader with Battery A, 1st Bn., 377th FA Regt., said although the ceremony came late after his promotion, it is still early in his career as an NCO and was invaluable to upcoming leaders.

"It's very important - I've been an NCO for over a year," he said, "Attending these inductions as a young Soldier was important to learning what it is to become an NCO. It's something to pass on tradition."

The ceremony began with the singing of the national anthem and moved into a brief history of the NCO Corps. Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Champagne, United States Division - South command sergeant major, attended as the guest speaker to the event.

"I applaud each of you for demonstrating the leadership, resolve, and technical expertise it takes to join the ranks of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps," he said. "The way ahead is not easy. In the past, when you needed someone to turn to, you had your sergeant. Starting today, you are that sergeant."

Macias-Ramirez said he is ready for the challenge.

"It's a very successful event in my military career. It's exciting to taking a new role and I'm ready to take the new responsibilities."

Also during the ceremony, three candles were lit. The red stood for the past and bloodshed in the service to country, white stood for the present and for purity within the NCO Corps, and blue stood for the future and loyalty to country.

The inductees also recited the Charge of the NCO, where they swore to uphold and perform their duties. They also received a framed copy of the NCO Creed.

The ceremony concluded with the singing of the Army Song.

Macias-Ramirez said he is ready to accept his new role and was well-prepared by his own sergeants.

"For my time as an NCO, my leadership has trained me," he said, "Taking care of Soldiers - it's the most important thing. Making sure they are combat-ready and know all their battle tasks and drills."