CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Nineteen soldiers from Task Force ODIN joined the ranks of the Non-commissioned Officers Corps during a ceremony, Nov. 8.
Senior NCOs from the soldiers’ respective units called out the names of the newly promoted sergeants, welcoming them into what is known as “The Backbone of the Army.”
“The importance of the ceremony is to officially let the soldiers realize that they have crossed the bridge between being a soldier and being a non-commissioned officer,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Mickey Somers, the senior enlisted leader of Task Force ODIN.
Graduating from the junior enlisted ranks, the new sergeants are now the first line of leadership and mentors to young privates and specialists serving under their watch.
Command Sgt. Maj. Philip Perrone, the 67th Battlefield Surveillance Battalion command sergeant major, and guest speaker at the ceremony, reminded the NCOs of the importance of respect, citing a passage written in their NCO guidebook by retired Command Sgt. Maj. Gary Littrell.
“Respect is not issued to you with a set of orders and a set of stripes,” Perrone read. “Respect is something earned by taking care of the Soldiers that you train, supervise and prepare for combat.”
Being inducted into the NCO Corps struck a chord within one of the honorees.
“It really does make your heart jump when they emphasize that we are leaders and what the stripes on our chest mean,” said Sgt. Melissa Myers, an Army reservist with 378th Combat Service and Support Battalion, attached to Company B, Task Force ODIN.
It’s important to know the difference that being an NCO makes, added Myers, a native of Lititz, Pa.
“It does ignite a sense of pride in the corps and being a noncommissioned officer,” she remarked.
For Somers, his goal was to instill pride in the NCOs under his command, noting that he was never formally inducted after his promotion to the NCO Corps.
Making time to conduct the ceremonies and recognize the achievements of the Soldiers is crucial, he added.
“It makes me feel more like a part of something,” said Sgt. Scott Durbrow, an Atlanta, Ga. native assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 21st Cavalry Brigade, Task Force ODIN.
It’s a good feeling to be able to better take care of subordinates and give them better advice, stated Durbrow, who will now look over several Soldiers in his unit.
“It’s a good tradition,” he said of the ceremony. “You feel the change of responsibility that you have.”
The 19 newly initiated sergeants now return to their units with new duties and responsibilities and a future of leadership.
“Their career is only limited by their own desires and commitment,” said Somers, who asked the Soldiers to pass on the induction tradition.
Perrone offered the group a bit of professional development, leaving them with advice garnered from his 31 years as an NCO.
“Take care of your soldiers,” said the Omaha, Neb. native. “Stay physically and mentally fit; but most of all do what is right, do the best you can, treat others as you like to be treated, and you will be successful.”
Task Force ODIN, an acronym for Observe, Detect, Identify and Neutralize, deployed in summer 2010 in support of Operation New Dawn and provides counter-improvised explosive device and air surveillance support.