By Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert
1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
TAJI, Iraq – Just because troops are deployed to Iraq doesn't mean they have to buck tradition.
In two ceremonies, hosted by the 615th Aviation Support Battalion "Cold Steel" and 2nd "Lobo" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment – both from 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division – 50 new sergeants were inducted into the Non-commissioned Officer Corps in traditional fashion.
In the June 14 Cold Steel ceremony, 32 new sergeants walked under crossed sabers held by 1st Sgt. Tim Johnson, Company B, and 1st Sgt. Joseph Bell, Company E from Milford, Ohio, and Jacksonville, Fla., respectively. The sergeants' supervisors stood and announced to the battalion's senior NCO, Dallas native Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Vela, that they sponsored the young NCO being inducted.
Afterward, each sergeant was presented with a certificate from Multi-National Division-Baghdad's senior non-commissioned officer, Command Sgt. Maj. Philip Johndrow. During the ceremony, all NCOs present sang the Army Song and recited the NCO Creed.
The new sergeants were impressed by the traditional induction ceremony.
"It is a great honor," said Sgt. Jenny Van Pelt, Company B, 615th ASB, a native of Utopia, Texas. "These ceremonies are few and far between during deployments. A lot of people don't even know what an NCO induction ceremony is. Not every NCO can say that they were officially inducted into the NCO Corps."
The fact that the MND-B command sergeant major was on hand to welcome the new sergeants was the icing on the cake.
"I am honored that the division command sergeant major came," said Sgt. Vicente Ramirez, Company B, 615th ASB, a native of Los Angeles. "I had never met the division sergeant major before, so this is a day I will always remember."
During remarks at the ceremony, Johndrow told the new NCOs that, as sergeants, more would be expected of them.
"You cannot forget that ... Soldiers need leadership in order to be successful," Johndrow said. "You are that leadership. Our nation looks to men and women of honor and character, leaders who do not have to make excuses for their past or current actions; leaders who Soldiers want to emulate, to be looked upon as examples. Leadership is practiced, not so much in words as it is in attitudes and in actions."
He also told the young sergeants that their Soldiers would be watching and learning from their actions.
"Your Soldiers look up to you and learn from everything that you do. It is imperative that you set the good example for them at all times, and you lead them with the best of your abilities and make decisions not because they are easy, or because they are popular. You make them because they are right," Johndrow said.
Eighteen Soldiers were inducted into the NCO Corps in the Lobos ceremony June 15.
The ceremony included a history of the non-commissioned officer, the induction and a recital of the NCO Creed. The guest speaker for the event was Multi-National Corps-Iraq's top NCO, Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola.
"It welcomed us into the NCO world," said Phoenix, Ariz., native Sgt. Theresa Daniels, a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-227th. "It's an official welcome. Back in the rear, they don't do this as much. I think being out here in Iraq, it makes it more special."
"(It meant) being a part of something big, something the Army really makes a big deal about," said Sgt. Joshua Davis, Company D, 2-227th, from Greensboro, N.C.
Daniels said she was inspired by Ciotola's words.
"(He said) that we make a difference," she said. "He said that by him being older and higher rank, he's going to be leaving the Army and we're new – we're fresh in the Army. We have to take what he says and take it in and learn from it."
In remarks during the ceremony, Ciotola told the new sergeants that NCOs are vital to the success of the U.S. Army.
"We non-commissioned officers are responsible for day-to-day operations," he said. "We are the ones. We wake the Army up; we put the Army to bed."
He charged the young NCOs to make the Army's future as successful as it's past.
"When you peel this thing and you take this uniform off, it's all about making the grass grow as opposed to cutting it," he said. "This is all about lifting up the youth of our great nation and assuring and ensuring the relevancy, credibility and ability of this institution for years to come.
"It is the second day of the 233rd year of the American Army, and something wonderful has been born. That's you," Ciotola told the new NCOs. "What will you do with it?"
This work, Rite of Passage: Cold Steel, Lobo troops join NCO Corps, by Rick Emert, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.