Seventeen soldiers from Winn Army Community Hospital took part in a ceremonial rite of passage Friday as they officially were inducted into the Noncommissioned Officers Corps. Many of the soldiers, who are trained in medical or administrative support roles at Fort Stewart or Hunter Army Airfield, were promoted to sergeant several months ago but had not been ceremonially inducted into the NCO Corps.
“The induction ceremony is like other Army ceremonies,” explained Sgt. Daniel Miracle, one of the inductees. “It’s tradition and it’s important because the more you move up in the ranks, the more responsibility you’re given. I’m not just responsible for being a good medic anymore; now I’m responsible for helping train other medics.”
Miracle, who will have nine years in the Army in January, plans to make the Army a career.
“If the Army allows me to stay in, I’d like to be a sergeant major someday,” he said, noting that attaining the highest rank of an enlisted soldier should be every soldier’s goal.
According to “A Short History of the NCO” by the Command and General Staff College, the history of the NCO Corps goes back the birth of the Continental Army in 1775. Rather than copy the NCOs of the British army, the American NCO blended the traditions of the French, British and Prussian armies.
During the American Revolution, Gen. Friedrich von Steuben, the Prussian officer credited with teaching Continental Army troops the essentials of military drills, tactics and disciplines, wrote the “Regulation for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States.” Also known as the Blue Book, Steuben’s regulation stipulated the duties and responsibilities of corporals, sergeants, first sergeants, quartermaster sergeants and sergeants major.
Through the years and through countless military campaigns, the NCO Corps structure and duties have changed according to the needs of the military and the nation.
Friday’s ceremony included a recitation of the Soldier’s Creed by Staff Sgt. Paul Cummings, a review of the history of the American NCO with the lighting of red, white and blue candles, a presentation called “Soldier’s Request” and a recitation of the NCO Creed.
The induction itself included calling each junior NCO by name, who one by one reported on stage, standing in the doorway of an arch with an inscription that read, “NCO Corps: Backbone of the Army.” This arch was said to represent the Line of Authority. Two senior NCOs, swords drawn and raised above the arch, stood in the doorway. Another senior NCO within the audience stood and said he or she was sponsoring the inductee. The inductee was then told to cross the Line of Authority, symbolically entering the ranks of the NCO Corps.
Following the ceremony, the guest speaker was introduced by Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Medical and Dental Activity Command Sgt. Maj. William C. Carver III. Command Sgt. Maj. James E. Diggs of the U.S. Army Medical Department and School at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, encouraged and challenged the NCO inductees.
“I look at leadership as more than title and position,” said Diggs, who attained the rank of sergeant major after 17 years and two months of service. Diggs reminded the new NCOs that soldiers are not robots. He said each soldier has individual strengths and weaknesses, and leaders must learn to adapt to the needs of individuals to train them and lead them to accomplish the Army’s mission.
“Take a look at the rich history around you. You’ll see you have to be serious about your responsibility. ... Many times it’s not what you ask for but what you get and what you do with it. … Now it’s up to you because you’re the problem-solver.”