After 36 years of waiting for his turn to walk under the crossed sabers signifying his transformation into a noncommissioned officer, Col. Neil Glenesk had that opportunity Oct. 22 during Madigan Healthcare System's NCO Induction Ceremony in Letterman Auditorium.

Glenesk was promoted to specialist 5 in 1974, and he spent five days as an NCO while awaiting orders to transition from an active-duty enlisted Soldier to a college student, and ultimately, an officer as an optometrist doctor. His chance to join the NCO ranks came about when he was speaking about his few days as a specialist 5 with Command Sgt. Maj. Miguel Guante-Rojas, Madigan's senior enlisted Soldier. "Next thing I know, I'm being asked to attend the ceremony," Glenesk said. "It's a tremendous honor."

Glenesk joined 17 other sergeants who stepped across the symbolic line marking their induction into the NCO ranks. The ceremony recognizes the completion of the Soldier's journey, from being junior-enlisted to a sergeant, and imprints them as members of the time-honored NCO Corps. "Today is a great and excellent day, and we are going to honor these young Americans for their commitment to duty in becoming NCOs," Guante-Rojas said.

Delivering the keynote address for the event was Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Pumphrey, 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion. He had an important message for the Soldiers - be an engaged leader. According to Pumphrey, engagement requires having the right tools in the leadership toolbox to motivate Soldiers to accomplish the mission. It also requires that NCOs know all they can about their Soldiers. "Engaged leadership is knowing everything you need to know about that Soldier and looking out for their welfare," Pumphrey said. "There's no gray area here, all black and white - I know about each and every one of my 705 Soldiers."

Good NCOs set and maintain the standards, which also falls under engaged leadership, he said. "Never back down on the standards set by the Army, the unit's command sergeant major and your own," Pumphrey said. "Being engaged is how you maintain those standards."