By T. Anthony BellOctober 4, 2012
FORT LEE, Va. (Oct. 4, 2012) -- Sgt. 1st Class Erick Detrich became a noncommissioned officer years ago and didn't have to be present for his unit's NCO induction ceremony.
Yet he felt compelled to join his fellow NCOs in the symbolic and long-standing tradition.
"I was never inducted into the Corps due to all the deployments and the ops tempo we've had the past several years," said the 14-year Soldier, "so being actually inducted into the Corps means a lot."
The 16th Ordnance Battalion 59th Ord. Brigade welcomed Detrich and 15 other Soldiers into the Corps during a ceremony Friday at Ball Auditorium. Command Sgt. Maj. Cheryl N. Greene, 16th Ord. Bn. command sergeant major, said induction ceremonies are always highlight events but this one in particular was special.
"This one meant a lot because not only did we induct new NCOs, but we got to induct senior sergeants into the corps of the noncommissioned officer," she said of the first such event held on the three-year-old Ordnance Campus. "It signifies unity, a sense of belonging and it says that we haven't forgotten about the traditions of the Corps and our obligation to acknowledge our noncommissioned officers."
Like Detrich, many NCOs had not been afforded the opportunity for induction due to the frequency of deployments to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Detrich was one of three sergeants first class present for the ceremony. Staff sergeants numbered 11. Only two sergeants, seasoned and not newly promoted, walked through the ceremonial threshold.
Roughly 100 Soldiers, Family members and others were on hand for the event. Included were Col. Thomas Rivard, commander, 59th Ord. Bde.; Lt. Col. Steven Carozza, commander 16th Ord. Bn.; Sgt. Maj. Anthony Boles, acting regimental CSM, Ord. Corps; retired Command Sgt. Maj. C.C. Jenkins, former Combined Arms Support Command CSM; and retired Command Sgt. Maj. Don E. Wells, former commandant, Quartermaster NCO Academy.
The ceremony featured Soldiers dressed in period uniforms to illustrate the history of the U.S. Army, a brief history of the NCO induction ceremony and recitals of the traditional Soldier Request/NCO Response and Officer Request/NCO Response and NCO Creed.
The guest speaker, Command Sgt. Maj. Edward C. Morris, the 59th's CSM, emphasized the roles of NCOs in completing missions and shaping the force, using a play on pronouns to refer to the inductees.
"The mission of an NCO is to fulfill what we know as the backbone of the Army," he said. "We, me and you are individuals who can hear and understand the mission and then take the necessary actions required to make things happen
"We, me and you are sergeants. We, me and you never accept no for an answer. Words such as 'defeat' and 'quit' are not in our vocabulary but serves as motivation for taking action …"
Morris went on to chronicle the various changes in clothing, equipment and leadership that have occurred during his 23-year career, saying that change is inevitable and has to be facilitated by the Corps.
"The one driving force to carry our Army forward is we, me and you -- the noncommissioned officer," he said. "Wars may be fought with weapons of sophisticated technology, but they are won by our Soldiers who lead Soldiers by being competent NCOs."
Just before Morris' speech, names of the inductees were announced as they walked one by one through a threshold depicting the NCO ranks and a two-Soldier arch of sabers. Sgt. 1st Class Miguel Guzmanescolastico, another one of the inductees, said it was a memorable occasion.
"The ceremony was outstanding," said the 13-year Soldier. "Actually, I would consider it as one of the highlights of my career."
Sgt. Seaford Herron, one of the two sergeants inducted, said it is something to remember, an occasion that says being an NCO is far beyond putting on the stripes and receiving the accompanying pay increase. It goes a long way, he said, in helping Soldiers comprehend the honor bestowed upon them and the responsibility that comes with it.
"It's not just about the rank and pay," he said. "It's good for you to feel like you're a part of something. It's good to know that we're a team, and there's something out there that says 'yes,' we are a team; here's the corps, welcome, be a part of it."
While the ceremony itself, with its ritual and symbolism, serves to perpetuate traditions, Greene said it also serves to encourage NCOs to uphold the standards from a practical standpoint.
"I expect them to 'Be, Know and Do,'" she said, citing an Army leadership motto. "And I expect them to live up to the values, not just of the NCO corps but the seven Army values, on a daily basis and inculcate those values into the NCO creed."