Sgt. Javier Amador
3rd Brigade Combat Team Journalist
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Members of 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), held a ceremony welcoming the newest sergeants into the U.S. Army’s noncommissioned officers’ ranks Saturday at their headquarters on Forward Operating Base Shank.
The ceremony marked the newly promoted sergeants’ departure from the junior ranks, symbolizing the need for them to remember they are no longer just followers of orders but leaders, with all of the responsibilities and accountability that come with the job.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Lewis, Combined Joint Task Force-10 and 10th Mountain Division senior enlisted adviser and guest speaker, used a Soldier’s vehicle tool kit as an analogy to illustrate the skills new leaders must acquire.
“When you come through that arch, you’re going to get that canvas bag, and it’s only got one tool in it,” Lewis said. “It’s a hammer. That’s it. That’s what the sergeant has.
“So when that sergeant looks at his squad or his fire team, every problem he sees is a nail,” he continued.
“You’re not going to be successful when you start whacking every problem you come across, so you are charged as a sergeant to start filling that tool kit.”
Lewis admonished the newest inductees to continuously increase their knowledge, learn different types of leadership and understand when to apply them.
He then addressed the senior NCOs, charging them with helping the newest members of their ranks to grow their leadership skills.
“Your leadership style has to adjust based on the Soldiers you are dealing with and the problems that you find,” he said. “To the leaders in this room not being inducted today,” he added, “your challenge and your charge is to assist the young NCOs in filling up that tool kit.”
The ceremony, which began with a brief history of the induction ceremony and the NCO Corps, follows a 200-year tradition dating back to the time of Frederick the Great, the Prussian king remembered for his innovative military drills and tactics.
The first sergeants from each of the six companies then proceeded in pairs to a wood block statue of the letters “N-C-O,” where three candles, one for each letter, had been placed.
Individually glowing red, white or blue, each candle had its own significance.
First Sgts. Timothy Toppin and William Collins lit the red candle representing valor.
First Sgts. Fernando Gonzalez and Donald Lindley lit the white candle representing honesty and integrity. Finally, 1st Sgts. Angela Morton-Bey and Daniel Bryan lit the blue candle, signifying vigilance and the field of honor in which an NCO serves.
One by one, the new NCOs left their seats and walked through a wooden arch covered with camouflage netting and emblazoned with the images of all seven of the U.S. Army’s NCO ranks, followed by another arch made by two sabers and held by senior NCOs.
As the Soldiers proceeded through the arches, they were announced by their company first sergeants. The Soldiers received their certificates and were congratulated by Lewis, Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Hamm, battalion command sergeant major, and their respective first sergeants before proceeding back to their seats.
The ceremony ended with the reading of the “Charge of the Noncommissioned Officer” and the “Creed of the Noncommissioned Officer” as well as a brief, informal huddle of newly appointed NCOs by Col. Sam Whitehurst, Spartan Brigade commander, who shared some lessons and congratulated them on their success.