Thursday, January 24, 2002

NCOs -- Backbone of the Army

Photos by Larry Sorcher

Sgt. 1st Class Sheila Bennett from the 274th Military Police Company signs the NCO Creed witnessed by U.S. Army Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Mateaki Niko.

Twenty-six Noncommissioned Officers signed the NCO Creed reaffirming their vows as "the backbone of the Army" at a unique NCO Induction Ceremony Jan. 17. The soldiers, all from the National Guard 274th Military Police Company, Washington, D.C., deployed to Fort Detrick last October to augment the Department of Defense police officers with post security and force protection.

Fort Detrick and U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Servantez said Fort Detrick is the first installation he's aware of to hold an induction ceremony for the Guard or Reserve soldiers deployed since the September attacks.

Traditionally, the NCO Induction ceremony is held for newly promoted sergeants, marking the transition from junior enlisted to leader of soldiers. Most of the soldiers with the 274th who were called to active duty in September never had the opportunity to participate in an induction ceremony, which is part of the NCO Development Program, said Servantez. He and U.S. Army Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Mateaki Niko wanted to recognize the soldiers who had to leave jobs and family to assist in homeland defense. They enlisted the aid of the U.S. Army Security Force to organize the special ceremony.

"We know the sacrifices they are making," Servantez said. "This is a way for Fort Detrick to show their appreciation."

When he learned of the ceremony, Medical Command Command Sgt. Maj. James Aplin traveled from Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to talk to the soldiers and thank Fort Detrick for holding the ceremony.

"It's important to have these types of ceremonies to remember our heritage and keep our traditions in the forefront," Aplin said.

He gives credit to two Army sergeants major for their part in rebuilding the corps--former Sgt. Maj. of the Army Silas Copeland and the current Sgt. Maj. of the Army Jack Tilley. Copeland, the third sergeant major of the Army, developed a guide for NCOs in what is now the "NCO Creed." Tilley requested a study to develop the future of the NCO corps.

Aplin told the NCOs to lead by example using the Seven Army Values--Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Service, Honor, Integrity and Courage. "They are the very soul of the Army," he said.

Others taking part in the ceremony were Staff Sgt. Glynis Harris from Fort Sam Houston who sang the National Anthem and led the audience in the Army song and Security Forces' soldiers Spc. Robert Cabrara, Staff Sgt. Lee Sodic, Sgt. First Class George Pepper and Sgt. Daryl Twigg from U.S. Army Garrison.

"The ceremony was outstanding," said Sgt. Corthel Miller from the 274th. Miller, on duty at the Front Gate bundled up against a cold wind, said he participated in a similar ceremony while serving in the Marine Corps, but the Army's version is a little different. Miller works at the Washington Navy Yard when not deployed.

Fellow soldier Sgt. Rodney Patterson echoed Miller's comments. "It was a good ceremony. It reconfirmed my NCO commitment," said the six-year Guard soldier who is a cable installer.

Staff Sgt. Anderson Carter said the induction was the first one he attended in the more than 40 years he's spent in the military. He joined the Army in 1960, got out for a short time, and then joined the Guard. He retired after 35 years with the Department of Corrections and is employed as a customs protective officer with the International Monetary Fund.

"We all think the ceremony was very well done and inspiring. The 274th appreciates Fort Detrick's effort to put forth this event," Carter said.

"It's an honor to participate in any ceremony that recognizes the outstanding contribution of our great NCO corps," said Security Force First Sergeant Ernest Vonreichenbach. "As a senior leader, I feel that it is important that we continue to remember and practice these time-honored traditions set down by NCOs of the past who have paved the way for us today."

NCO creed

No one is more professional than I. I am a Noncommissioned Officer, a leader of soldiers. As a Noncommissioned Officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as "The Backbone of the Army." I am proud of the Corps of Noncommissioned Officers and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the Military Service and my country regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety.

Competence is my watch word. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind -- accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my soldiers. I will strive to remain tactically and technically proficient. I am aware of my role as a Noncommissioned Officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership, I know my soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my soldiers and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishments.

Officers of my unit will have maximum time to accomplish their duties; they will not have to accomplish mine. I will earn their respect and confidence as well as that of my soldiers. I will be loyal to those with whom I serve; seniors, peers and subordinates alike. I will exercise initiative by taking appropriate action in the absence of orders. I will not compromise my integrity, nor my moral courage. I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, Noncommissioned Officers, leaders

Ranksnco uniform
NCO Rank BadgesDecked out in full military gear Staff Sgt. Lee Sodic from U.S. Army Security Forces recites the NCO Creed during the NCO Induction Ceremony Jan. 17.