FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Weed Army Community Hospital inducted 17 Soldiers into the corps of the noncommissioned officer during an NCO Induction Ceremony on Feb. 11 at the Sandy Basin Community Center at Fort Irwin.
Command Sgt. Maj. Dedraf Blash, the senior enlisted advisor for WACH, said the purpose of the event is to celebrate newly promoted sergeants and welcome them to the ranks of the noncommissioned officer corps.
During the ceremony, three NCOs recited the Creed of the Noncommissioned Officer to remind the new NCOs of their duties, three junior-enlisted Soldiers recited “A Soldier’s Request”, which details what a Soldier expects from their NCO, and the NCOs in the ceremony walked through the NCO arch and under crossed sabers to symbolically cross the line of authority to the be inducted into the NCO Corps.
Fort Irwin’s Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Fedorisin, served as the guest speaker at the ceremony and the Regional Health Command — Central senior enlisted advisor, Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy J. Sprunger, also spoke to the new NCOs.
Both Fedorisin and Sprunger shared with the attendees that they were fortunate to participate in the event, because not every NCO is formally inducted into the NCO Corps.
“I was not inducted into the NCO Corps, but I made it my goal that when it was my time to lead from the front and be the example, I will always afford the opportunity for Soldiers to do so,” Blash said.
Upholding the tradition of the NCO Induction Ceremony is important, Blash added.
“This tradition should continue because it is a time to celebrate, a time to show pride that a soldier has made it to the elite NCO Corps, the backbone of the Army, the glue that holds it all together, the one that makes it happen — the NCO,” she said. “It is their moment to shine under those lights and soak it all in and say, ‘This is the beginning of it all, I’m ready.’”
Sgt. Gladys Lugo, a medical laboratory technician with WACH, participated in the ceremony following her promotion to sergeant in December 2020.
For Lugo, the path to becoming an NCO required continuous work to meet the cutoff points required to earn a promotion in her career field.
Lugo said she tried her best to maximize the different areas of her promotion point work sheet.
The maximum amount of points the Army can require for advancement to sergeant or staff sergeant is 800 according to the Army’s promotion point worksheet, which breaks down points by military training such as weapons qualification, and administrative points, such as awards and civilian education.
When she finally made the cutoff, points for her job were in the mid-600s, Lugo said.
Lugo said she was “relieved” and “excited” to finally earn her promotion because she earned the rank she had been working toward.
“I wanted to be able to step up and do more to help out especially from the laboratory perspective because in the lab we did get hit pretty hard as soon as the [COVID-19] pandemic began,” she said. “Our work load increased significantly.”
Blash compared sergeants, or E5s, and the L5 vertebrae in the lumbar area of the spine, noting that NCOs are often called the “backbone of the Army.”
“Much like the L5, the E5 rank is where many of our problems start because we don’t know how to bear the weight or the stress of the items we carry,” she explained.
As NCOs grow, things start changing, she said.
“Knowledge and responsibilities levels grow, wisdom of standards and regulations cause us to start to lose ‘excess weight’ from those things that are not ethical and morally right, we lead by example, and build cohesive teams by implementing ‘This is My Squad initiatives,’” Blash said.
At the end of the day, Blash said she hopes the inductees took away one key thing from the ceremony.
“I hope that they realize the ceremony is their announcement that they are officially part of the ‘backbone of the Army,’” Blash said. “I am so excited for all these sergeants and I can’t wait to see all the ideas that each of them has to bring to the table.”
After being inducted, Lugo said she better understood the importance of the ceremony and the tradition behind it.
“The whole purpose of [the NCO Induction Ceremony] is meant to emphasize what you are walking into and to take it seriously,” she explained. “It places emphasis on the value of a noncommissioned officer and it definitely shows everyone around it’s valuable and shouldn’t be forgotten.”