News: A time-honored tradition, NCOs ceremonially inducted into leadership fraternity
Story by Sgt. Scott Akanewich
LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. - Seventeen soldiers raised their right hands, thus joining a fraternity that dates back to the Continental Army during a Noncommissioned Officer Induction Ceremony held by the 79th Sustainment Support Command in the Liberty Theater at Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, Calif., Dec. 1
The NCO Induction Ceremony is designed to enhance the prestige and esprit de corps of all NCOs. It is a special ceremony formally marking the passage of a soldier into the Noncommissioned Officer Corps, an integral part of the Army’s Profession of Arms.
The 17 NCOs were welcomed into the NCO Corps with the respect befitting a group of soldiers taking the ceremonial step into the breach of Army leadership.
This ceremony not only represents a promotion in rank, but a critical step as they take up the mantle of those who came before them in what’s known as “The Backbone of the Army.”
Following a video tribute to fallen warriors, the ceremony began with a recital of “Boots of the NCO,” a poetic look back over the storied history of the NCO Corps, symbolized by the different kinds of footwear they have worn and where they have tread over the decades.
After this, began the ceremonial candle-lighting, which symbolizes an important part of military history and the NCO Corps. Three candles were lit, one each in red, white and blue. The flames flickered as the narration described the significance of each: the red candle represents valor, blood, sweat and tears of the Army, from the Revolutionary War to the present, the white candle represents purity and innocence as well as peer spirit and camaraderie and the blue candle represents justice. Additionally, the blue represents the strength and mettle of the NCO Corps and a refusal to compromise on standards.
Following a reading of the “Origin of the NCO Creed,” the event’s guest speaker, Sgt. Maj. Jesse Acosta, retired, stepped to the podium. Acosta served with honor for nearly three decades before a mortar attack took his eyesight while on a deployment to Iraq in 2006. He has been recognized for having a bill passed in Congress and has been requested to appear at the White House by the commander in chief to witness it being signed. Several Congress members and city officials have also recognized him for his military service and his efforts in seeking just care, treatment and benefits for all military service members, veterans and wounded warriors.
“It’s an absolute honor to be here with you all, I’m deeply humbled,” said Acosta.
Following a brief anecdote from when he was promoted to corporal and first became an NCO himself, he left the inductees with words of wisdom and inspiration before he stepped away from the podium.
“Always remember we’re here to defend our country,” said Acosta. “We need the backbone – we need you.”
After Acosta was done speaking, it was now time for the moment of truth. However, first, there was a much-overdue honor to bestow.
“Will PV2 Morris J. Page, 314th Infantry Regiment, 304th Combat Engineer, 79th Infantry Division Regiment, please approach the stage,” bellowed the narrator. Morris, a World War II veteran and Bronze Star recipient approached the stage with his wife, Kay. Morris, now 88, was drafted and entered the Army March 6, 1943.
The narrator continued.
“To all soldiers who wear the 79th Sustainment Support Command shoulder sleeve insignia, let it be known, that standing before you is a soldier, a World War II combat veteran of the European theater that served under the 79th Infantry Division. Pvt. Page, in keeping with our theme 'The Army Profession' and on behalf of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps, we ask that you accept our humble offer as Honorary Sergeant, inducted this day, Dec. 1, 2012.”
With that, Page was presented with a plaque and a 79th SSC command coin by Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Roberson, 79th SSC, command sergeant major.
The ceremony continued as sponsors stood one-by-one calling out the names of their respective inductees.
The inductees included Sgt 1st Class Deborah Carter, Staff Sgt. Steve Garza, Staff Sgt. Jordan Lamoreaux, Staff Sgt. Rebecca Moorebrooks, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wagner, Staff Sgt. Ralph Williams, Sgt. Marie Adams, Sgt. Ronald Andries, Sgt. Dane Aragon, Sgt. Ernest Azuela, Sgt. Tiffany Bobo, Sgt. Bernice Carcano, Sgt. Krystine Curtis, Sgt. Anthony Gomez, Sgt. Benjamin Navarrette III and Sgt. Leon Thomas and Sgt. Kyle Mathews.
Each inductee approached the stage, where they were presented by Roberson and Acosta a signed copy of the “NCO Creed”, a copy of the “Charge of the NCO” and a copy of Field Manual 7-22.7, the NCO Guide.
Illuminated by theatrical lighting were larger-than-life representations of all the NCO ranks, which the inductees passed through as they worked their way across the stage, as if symbolizing the journey they were embarking on as enlisted Army leaders.
Once the NCOs returned to their seats, four enlisted soldiers in the audience stood one-by-one and delivered what is known as the “Soldiers’ Request,” during which the NCOs are reminded of the duties and responsibilities that accompany their ranks. The “Charge of the NCO” was then recited by Sgt. Maj. Sophia Petersen.
The inductees then rose from their seats in unison and were led in a recital of the “NCO Creed” by Staff Sgt. Karen Ardon and Staff Sgt. Sergio Hernandez.
Aragon, an ammunitions specialist with the 163rd Ordnance Company and Mission Viejo, Calif. native. Aragon, who was promoted approximately three months ago, said he is confident in his new role as a leader.
“I’m definitely ready,” said Aragon, who, right after he had been promoted to specialist, deployed to Iraq in 2009. “I’ve been an assistant team leader for some time now and have already been training soldiers.”
The extra experience and knowledge he has already gained from being in a leadership role as a junior-enlisted soldier sets him up for success now that he’s wearing stripes, he said.
“I just feel I have a distinct advantage because I already have leadership experience behind my rank,” said Aragon.
However, this wasn’t always the case, he said.
According to Aragon, loyalty to his unit, as well as respect for others precluded earlier promotion, by his own choice.
“I could have ranked up sooner, but I felt there were others more deserving at the time,” he said. “Also, I didn’t want to be promoted out of my unit.”
After marching across the stage and receiving a plaque commemorating his induction and a few moments to reflect on the gravity of his accomplishment, Aragon was filled with gratitude, he said.
“I’ve always had nothing but excellent leadership who has always shown the way,” he said. “I’m just proud to be an NCO, especially for my unit.”
“Sgt. Aragon brings a lot of combat experience to the table,” said Sandoval. “Now, he’s truly in a position to make things happen.”
Sandoval cited the significance of the event overall.
“The induction ceremony is something we need to pass on to new NCOs,” he said. “It’s a tradition to keep it moving forward and it’s an honor to be here.”
Carter was among the inductees despite the fact she joined the NCO ranks nearly two decades ago. Despite the vast gap in experience separating her from her fellow inductees, a wave of emotion swept over her nevertheless.
“It made me proud to be part of the NCO Corps all over again,” said Carter. “After all, at the end of the day, we’re like one big family.”
Carter claimed she enjoyed taking part in a ceremony such as this more now than she would have all those years ago.
“I might not have appreciated it as much back then because I didn’t know yet what it really meant to be an NCO,” she said. “When you first get promoted, you don’t really know what you’re getting into.”
Carter offered one piece of advice she would pass along to the young NCOs to her left and right during the proceedings.
“Never bow down and always stand up for what you believe in,” she said.
Aragon’s sponsor was 1st Sgt. Jose Sandoval of the 163rd Ordnance Company, who backed up his newly-promoted soldier.
Perhaps Roberson put it best by succinctly summing up the true essence of the NCO and all he or she stands for.
“I hope the message today is clear,” he said. “The NCO is here to stay, the NCO is here to execute and the NCO is here on your behalf.”
This work, A time-honored tradition, NCOs ceremonially inducted into leadership fraternity, by SGT Scott Akanewich, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.