News: Raptors cross into ‘backbone’ role
Story by Staff Sgt. Bryan Lewis
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – “I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, noncommissioned officers, leaders!”
Task Force Raptor held a noncommissioned officers induction ceremony June 13 where 22 recently promoted sergeants throughout the brigade were welcomed into the “backbone of the Army.”This event marks the first-ever NCO induction ceremony for Task Force Raptor, which is designated the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade when stationed at its home in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
“I haven’t got to see this a lot, especially in Afghanistan,” said Sgt. Timothy Wooden, from Niagara Falls, New York. “When someone ask me where I did mine, I get to say Kandahar, Afghanistan.”
Before the inductees took their right-of-passage, they were presented with a skit called “A Soldier’s Request,” where junior enlisted Soldiers responded to examples of bad leadership with requests for guidance, respect and training.
“How you operate, how you lead and the legacy and foundation that you build with them as a young warrior makes all the difference in the world,” said Command Sgt. Maj. David M. Clark, the event’s guest speaker.
The level of responsibility for a Soldier significantly increases because they are charged with the training, accountability and welfare of junior Soldiers.
“People look up to you more … now that you have sergeant (rank) on your chest,” Wooden said.
Then a representative from every NCO rank, starting with sergeant and going to command sergeant major, posted on the stage and recited the scope of responsibilities that comes with their rank.
“The biggest influence for me as far as being an NCO has been my father because he was a first sergeant,” said Wooden, who was promoted to sergeant three months prior.
Next, the inductees received inspiration and guidance from Clark, the Regional Command South and 4th Infantry Division command sergeant major.
“Life is a test. Life is about trust. Life is a temporary assignment,” Clark began his speech to the inductees. “As a young leader, you’re going to be tested throughout this military journey.”
Be a leader of strong character. Think about the leader that you would want to lead you.”
Each inductee passed through an NCO archway that displayed all of the NCO ranks. As they came through to the other side, they were greeted by Clark and Command Sgt. Maj. Stephen D. Tillman, TF Raptor command sergeant major, with “welcome to the Corps.”
“Today, a torch has been passed to you (inductees),” Clark said. “It’s a relay race … run it to your fullest ability. Only you can run that race and your Soldiers will be running that race with you.”
Finally, the NCOs in the audience joined the inductees as they professed their commitment by reciting the NCO Creed.
“The NCO I hope to be is one that trains Soldiers tactically and help them out personally as well,” Wooden said. “I want to be more proficient in my job and well-rounded as an NCO.