By Jim Hughes, Command Information OfficerApril 14, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory held its first-ever non-commissioned officer induction ceremony April 8 and it did so in grand fashion--impressing a higher headquarters command sergeant major who served as guest speaker of the event.
Three NCOs from USAARL and five from Lyster Army Health Clinic were inducted into the NCO Corps during a ceremony described by guest speaker Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin B. Stuart, U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, as the best he's seen.
After emotional renditions of Boots of the NCO and A Soldier's Request by members of the unit, the eight were sworn into the corps by Sgt. 1st Class George Spann, the detachment sergeant for USAARL and the person who came up with the idea to bring the ceremony to the unit.
"Soldiers here get involved in the research and don't get exposed to some of the Army traditions," Spann said. "I'm mostly from the operational world and I've been involved in these types of ceremonies before-this is my first time where I'm behind a desk. I introduced the idea to the unit through the sergeant major, and the commander allowed us to set aside a day to conduct the ceremony."
He added that USAARL intends to make this a recurring event on an as-needed basis due to the small amount of Soldiers in the unit.
Most of the Soldiers inducted were not new to the NCO Corps, but despite having made the rank of sergeant up to seven years ago, had never had the opportunity to go through the ceremony. All seemed impressed by the proceedings, including Sgt. William McGilberry from USAARL who was promoted to sergeant in 2007.
"That was my first NCO induction ceremony and I thought it was pretty spectacular," he said. "The words that were spoken and the meaning of crossing through the sabers over the line into the NCO Corps - it means a lot to me - it keeps me grounded."
Equally impressed was Sgt. Arlene Breaux of USAARL, who made sergeant in 2004.
"I felt very proud to be a part of it," she said. "I'd never seen the ceremony before and it just ingrains in me how important it is to be an NCO. I was already proud to be an Army NCO, but now I'm even more proud."
While the ceremony served as the first exposure for many at USAARL to the NCO induction ceremony, equally impactful was the guest speaker, who spoke on leadership, Army values and what it means to be an NCO.
"Now you're part of the team ... you're part of the coalition...part of the brotherhood and sisterhood...you're part of the heritage," Stuart said. "In every single war in the history of our nation, the NCO was there in the trenches, leading from the front, training, teaching, coaching, mentoring troops and making sure that the mission always gets accomplished.
"You now have the opportunity to continue that legacy of outstanding service and leadership," he continued. "We've been around for a long time. You're now a part of a legacy that's been around for 235 years."
Stuart also reminded the eight that the road will not always be easy.
"There's a curve called failure, there's a loop called confusion, there's a speed bump called procrastination, there's a traffic light called aggravation, a red light called frustration and there's a flat called just being so tired," he said. "But many years ago, an old sergeant major told me, 'Do not be dismayed, Mr. Stuart. Because on this road, if you have a spare called determination, an engine called perseverance, insurance called faith and a driver called backbone - which is the NCO leader Soldiers - then you don't have to worry because that is going to lead you to success every time.'
"Once you came through those arches, there was no crossing back - you're now committed to taking care of those Soldiers, getting the mission accomplished, taking care of those you serve, Soldiers and civilians," Stuart added. "You've got to mentor them, train them, teach them, and provide them that environment where they can be successful. In fact, you've got to train them and teach them so they can be better than you. That's the challenge for you - for every NCO."
The inductees were: Sgt. David Allen, McGilberry and Breaux from USAARL; and Sgts. Brandon Griffith, Antoinette Dingle, Tal Wick, Joseph Baltz and Nadia Nixon from Lyster.