News: Engineer non-commissioned officers inducted by firelight
Story by Sgt. Austan Owen
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – “Inductees are you ready?” was shouted across the flame lit field lined with the ranks of non-commissioned officers surrounded by friends, family members and coworkers. The boisterous response of “Yes, sergeant major,” echoed back with confidence and pride by soldiers that would step through the threshold and ceremonially become a part of the Corps of non-commissioned officers.
Approximately 40 non-commissioned officers with 555th Engineer Brigade took part in an induction ceremony here, June 1.
The time-honored ceremony is a way to show the transition from a junior enlisted soldier to a leader of soldiers. Every soldier being inducted passed through the archway marked with the chevrons of the Non-commissioned Officer Corps from corporal to sergeant major of the Army and was greeted on the other side by their sponsor and the brigade command sergeant major.
The ceremony was held just after sunset, as small torches illuminated each of the enlisted rank symbols and three fires burned in the distance representing the non-commissioned officer’s “burning desire to lead soldiers.”
The progression of soldiers into the ranks of the Non-commissioned Officer Corps is one way to emphasize the duties and responsibilities that each non-commissioned officer will be required to live up to.
“This is a cognitive procedure for each young leader to know and understand that his or her life is about to change,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Bryan, 555th Engineer Brigade.
“I want them to think the minute they cross that line, I am accountable for my actions as a non-commissioned officer, a leader of Soldiers; here it is I’m an NCO,” said Bryan.
Not all sergeants in the Army have had the opportunity to participate in an induction ceremony and receive the full benefit of what it stands for.
“I never got to do anything like this,” said Sgt. Eric Mitchele, husband of Sgt. Sara Mitchele, one of the inductees. “Something like this is really neat; it shows that the unit cares about their NCOs.”
Moving into the Non-commissioned Officer Corps represents more than simply moving up in rank and receiving a bigger paycheck. It is a time when the new leaders take their position and become mentors to other soldiers. This is what one platoon sergeant witnessed as he sponsored an inductee passing through the archway.
“I’m super proud; I brought him up from a day-one private in AIT [Advanced Individual Training] at Fort Leonard Wood,” said Sgt. 1st Class Adam McCroy, platoon sergeant, 557th Engineer Company. “This ceremony is everything the NCO Corps stands for, the way it should be done, a passage of rites from specialist to NCO.”
Sgt. Carlos Piaz, 557th Engineer Company, said he has every intention of continuing the traditions of the Non-commissioned Officer Corps and will pass on the lessons he has learned from McCroy.
“I learned a lot from him, he’s a very professional non-commissioned officer,” said Piaz. “I learned a lot as far as being a professional soldier and having that desire to move forward in the military.”
“Everything that I grasp as an NCO I’m going to share with my Soldiers so that when they become NCOs they will pass it on and the tradition will continue,” said Piaz.
Every soldier that walked through the archway received a few items to help them stay on the path of being a leader and non-commissioned officer including; a signed “Charge to the Non-commissioned Officer,” a personalized Non-commissioned Officer Creed scroll and an Non-commissioned Officer guide, the field manual that sets the standards for non-commissioned officers.
The sergeants that stepped across the archway accepted the challenge to join the Non-commissioned Officer Corps and become leaders of soldiers. Command Sgt. Maj. Bryan had this to say to them, “Armies all over the world look at us, look at our NCO Corps and want to be like us. What you see out here today is some of the Army’s finest.”