NCO induction ceremony passes traditions, values to new sergeants

Codi Kozacek

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Twenty-eight Soldiers from the 916th Support Brigade joined the ranks of the Non-Commissioned Officer Corps during an induction ceremony at the National Training Center Feb. 16. The traditional rite of passage marks the Soldiers’ transition from junior enlisted personnel to sergeants.

NCOs are known as the “Backbone of the Army,” charged with exemplifying professionalism in their field, taking care of the Soldiers serving under them, and supporting unit officers to accomplish the mission. During the induction ceremony, guest speaker Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew Lowe, the NTC command sergeant major, challenged the new sergeants to always set and exceed the highest standards for themselves and their Soldiers.  Sergeants who do so have the respect of both their leaders and their Soldiers, he said.

“Their motivation inspires others and forces them to raise their game and improve the unit,” Lowe said. “This type of performance is contagious and will spread throughout platoons like wildfire. It is the leadership our soldiers need, and the example that inspires Soldiers to one day be sergeants.”

While the tasks and duties NCOs carry out have changed over the years to meet the needs of the Army, their fundamental role remains the same, according to 916th Command Sgt. Maj. Jessie Harris Jr. Events like the induction ceremony help pass those traditions and values on to the next generation of sergeants, he said.

“What I want these new Non-Commissioned Officers, these new inductees, to know and understand is that we are here to take care of Soldiers,” said Harris. “I think back to my time as a junior Non-Commissioned Officer and the things that were instilled in me. It was all about taking care of the mission, you take care of your Soldiers, and everything else takes care of itself.”

That’s exactly what Sgt. Fontavious Fuller, an inductee from the 2916th Aviation Battalion, plans to do.

“I’m going to be one of the NCOs that is always out there leading from the front,” he said after the ceremony. “I’m always going to be looking out for my Soldiers. Like it says in the [NCO] creed, I’m going to put their needs above my own.”

In his speech, Lowe emphasized that the path to great leadership is a process, and the induction ceremony signified the first step. Good sergeants make mistakes, too, he said – but never the same mistake twice.

“Enjoy this moment, but your goal today is to continue to learn and grow,” he said. “As a leader, it never ends.”