News: Army Reserve Command Sgt. Maj. welcomes future leaders
Story by Staff Sgt. Joy Dulen
EAST POINT, Ga. - The 335th Signal Command (Theater) welcomed nine soldiers into the Noncommissioned Officer Corps during an induction ceremony in East Point, Ga., on Nov. 3.
The Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) Induction Ceremony is a proud tradition that dates back to the beginning of the Army and marks the transition of Soldiers from junior-enlisted to junior NCOs. Command Sgt. Maj. Luther Thomas, Jr., United States Army Reserve Command Sgt. Maj. and Laurinburg, N.C., native, attended the ceremony after spending the day with troops. He said leadership is critical as we transition from an army of war to an army of preparation, and NCOs must provide that leadership.
“Making the transition from enlisted Soldier to noncommissioned officer is one of the most drastic changes a Soldier may experience in their entire military career,” Thomas stated. “It changes the dynamic of what will be expected of them from this point forward, most critically the fact that they are now responsible for the lives, actions, equipment and duty of the Soldiers they lead.”
Thomas took part in the ceremony that included the time-honored traditions of the reading of the history of the Army NCO, the crossing of the swords and the newly-promoted Soldiers’ stepping forward into the NCO Corps.
“The Noncommissioned Officer Induction Ceremony serves the purpose of not only welcoming newly promoted noncommissioned officers into the NCO Corps, but to take the opportunity to set the foundation for their success,” said Thomas. “It also serves to honor the memory of those men and women of the noncommissioned officer corps who served with pride and distinction.”
Newly promoted Sgt. Phonecia Pope, an administrative NCO with Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 335th Sig. Cmd. (T), and Raleigh, N.C., native, began her Army journey as a private and worked her way up the ranks. She said having the top enlisted Soldier in the Army Reserve attend the ceremony was extra meaningful.
“It meant a lot to me to have Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas here at the ceremony because he is probably the most important person in the Army Reserve,” said Pope. “For him to come all this way to honor us in person … it meant a lot.”
Pope said she was set up to succeed through good mentorship from NCOs in HHC and throughout the 335th Sig. Cmd. (T).
“Being here as a new Soldier in the 335th, the leadership has been good. The NCO’s have been nice, but straightforward,” added Pope. “They’ve been strict when they needed to and haven’t sugar-coated anything, so I feel like they’ve steered me in the right direction and have set me up for success.”
After the NCO creed was recited and the Army song sung, invited officers, NCOs and lower-enlisted Soldiers alike gathered in a line to congratulate the newest members of the NCO Corps with welcoming smiles and handshakes.
Thomas left all NCOs with a few challenges and thoughts for their future.
“Our profession is a commitment to learning and you have to embrace this,” Thomas said. “Your decisions as a noncommissioned officer can have a lasting effect, either positive or negative, on your Soldiers, their families, and our nation. Do not take it for granted.”
Now that she’s an NCO, Pope says her role has changed a lot. She’s had to go from being a friend to being a boss and has had to step up to the challenge of learning to correct, guide, lead, and mentor.
“I feel proud to have gone through an NCO Induction Ceremony,” added Pope. “I’m ready for the challenge to not only represent my unit, but the entire NCO Corps.”