FORT HOOD, Texas – “A sergeant’s business is to train and lead soldiers, every hour of every day,” said Staff Sgt. Jaime Salaza, narrator of the 20th Field Artillery Regiment’s recent noncommissioned officer induction ceremony on Fort Hood.
Getting soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 20th FAR, “Deep Strike” ready for their nonstop job as noncommissioned officers comes down to professional development. That is where Sgt. Maj. Edgar Fuentes steps in.
Fuentes, the senior enlisted adviser for 2nd Battalion, 20th FAR, Task Force Pegasus Fires, started a professional development forum, which will help prepare soldiers to become NCOs.
The first installment of the program, which resembles the NCO professional development program already in place, was held Nov. 1, at Howze Theater, Fort Hood, Texas.
First on the agenda was a class on the education benefits available to soldiers, NCOs and their family members.
Francis Judkins, a counselor with the Fort Hood education center, said pursuing education can only help the soldiers throughout their career and in their lives outside the military.
“We try to empower soldiers by telling them about the resources that the Army has made available to them and their family members, so that they can achieve their educational goals,” said Judkins.
“I know myself, I’m going to get more education and start college courses,” said Sgt. Adam Smigielski, a multiple launch rocket system crew member with Battery A, 2nd Battalion, after attending the briefing.
The second class of the day focused on the Army as a profession, outlining what will be expected of soldiers as they prepare to become NCOs.
“Because I learned the right way to do things, I can teach my soldiers the right way to do things,” said Smigielski, a native of Lynn, Mass.
The battalion plans to continue the training on a quarterly basis, said Fuentes.
The next lessons are scheduled for January and will feature classes on team building and counseling.
“They [the senior sergeants] are showing that if you want to stay in the Army, they are going to help, so you can further your career,” said Spc. Fredrick Puff, an MLRS crew member with Battery A, 2nd Battalion from Portland, Ore.
The first time they came out of the training, every soldier was more excited about the Army, said Staff Sgt. Nicolas Weisenberger an MLRS crew member and section chief with Battery A, 2nd Battalion.
They were more excited to be in the Army. They were more excited to be the future leaders of the Army. Weisenberger said he noticed changes within some of the soldiers in the battery.
“When I say, ‘I need this to happen,’ I don’t have to give them [soldiers] the step by step on how to do it,” said Weisenberger, a native of Tracy, Calif. “They are going out there with the initiative and drive of, ‘If I want to be a leader, I should be able to do this mission on my own.’”
The quarterly training has not only benefited the intended audience, but it also helps leaders.
“There are a lot of times when you get so focused on your section level tasks and MOS tasks. Not everyone can always be caught up to what is going on outside that,” said Weisenberger. “It helps me with my soldiers, because if I have insight on that, I can immediately start setting up my soldiers career paths by sending them to schools and professional development that the Army looks for in its future leaders, so this helps me tweak where my focus is with soldier development.”
After the professional development class, the junior soldiers were invited to watch as new NCOs were inducted into the NCO Corps.
Fuentes explained that the reason for the induction ceremony was to instill a sense of pride and esprit de corps in the new NCOs.
The ceremony featured a performance by NCOs from the Fort Hood Noncommissioned Officer Academy as they acted out the progression of NCOs throughout America’s history. After the performance, the newly-promoted NCOs were called on stage, one by one, each passing under a doorway inscribed with the words, “NCOs Lead the Way.”
Each NCO received a copy of the Creed of the Noncommissioned Officer and the Oath of the Noncommissioned Officer, both signed by the inductee and Fuentes. After receiving the items, all of the new NCOs came back on stage to take the Oath of the Noncommissioned Officer and recite the NCO Creed.
The day’s events were especially meaningful for Smigielski.
Not only did he attend the development briefing, but he was subsequently promoted and inducted as an NCO all in the same day.
“This is the first one I have seen,” he said. “I’m just glad I got to be a part of it.”