by Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert
1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Divsion Public Affairs
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Soldiers deployed to Iraq may be too busy to think about Army traditions.
The leadership from two attack aviation battalions however, ensured that two-dozen Soldiers' recent induction into the Non-commissioned Officers' Corps was something they would remember throughout their careers.
More than two-dozen new non-commissioned officers from 1st "Attack" and 4th "Guns" battalions, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, were inducted into the Non-commissioned Officer Corps in an Aug. 25 ceremony at Camp Taji, Iraq.
The guest speaker for the event, Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Joseph, the senior non-commissioned officer for the 15th Sustainment Brigade, told the new leaders that they had taken a big step.
"Soldiers will look to you, their leader – their sergeant, for direction," Joseph said. "This induction ceremony is indicative that you have entered the Non-commissioned Officer Corps."
By becoming sergeants the Soldiers had gone from being led to being leaders, and the promotion means more than a raise in pay, Joseph said.
"You're responsible for America's sons and daughters, and it is a sacred trust the American people charge us with," he said. "We must always be a Non-commissioned Officer Corps that leads by example, trains from experience, enforces the standards and takes care of our Soldiers and equipment and (adapts) to the change in environment."
"We must train our Soldiers in war time and in peace. We must coach and mentor Soldiers for their next level of responsibility, and we must care for them and their families. You are charged with building and strengthening the team and accomplishing your assigned mission."
The tradition and formality of the induction ceremony brought to light the significance of becoming a sergeant, said Sgt. Jeremy Stallard, 4-227th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, a native of Clintwood, Va.
"It was a great way to welcome Soldiers to the NCO Corps," Stallard said. "It really showed me the level of responsibility given to a sergeant. This is your senior officers' and senior NCOs' way of saying how much responsibility they have given you and how much they trust you."
Stallard said he didn't take Joseph's words lightly.
"An NCO's main responsibility is to teach Soldiers and take care of Soldiers," Stallard said. "A lot of my NCOs had a big impact on me, and now it is my job to help younger Soldiers."
The ceremony was an honor that not all Soldiers get when they become sergeants, according to Sgt. Raeanne Rodriquez, 1-227th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, a native of Simi Valley, Calif.
"I got a lot of feedback from my NCOs about the ceremony, and many of them said they didn't get something like this when they became NCOs," she said.
Reaching the rank of sergeant wasn't always one of Rodriguez's goals.
"I was a trouble maker," she said. "After a while of seeing my peers have more responsibility placed on them, I realized I had to straighten up."
When she earned her stripes in April, her life changed immediately.
"Being an NCO is challenging," she said. "You go from being lower enlisted to the next day being an NCO with more responsibilities. Some days you have to make split decisions. I enjoy taking care of Soldiers and training them to be our next leaders."
The role of the non-commissioned officer hasn't changed much over the years, and it's a role that Stallard said he is excited about taking on.
"I like military history – the history that the NCO Corps has," Stallard said. "It goes all the way back to the beginning of the Army. It's great that I and other NCOs are part of something that has been going for hundreds of years and will continue for many more."
This work, Attack aviation units welcome new NCOs, by Rick Emert, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.