Rite of Passage: Twenty-three Soldiers inducted into NCO Corps of HCB

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Lighting the eternal flame during the Headquarters Command Battalion NCO Induction Ceremony on Friday at the Defense Information School are 1st Sgt. Trish McCavanaugh, 1st Sgt. Shane Courville and 1st Sgt. Ayana Fulks. (Photos by Phil Grout)

The true mark of a noncommissioned officer is to be a humble leader.

“A humble leader is a sincere investment,” said Command Sgt. Montigo D. White, command sergeant major of the Defense Information School. “ … A humble leader invests in others, raising and mentoring new leaders.”

White shared his message with 23 Soldiers before they were inducted into the Noncommissioned Officers Corps on Friday morning.

Held at DINFOS, the ceremony was the first NCO induction for Headquarters Command Battalion.

Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen presided over the 40-minute ceremony. White was the guest speaker.

Staff Sgt. Nikki Woods, training and operations NCO for the Fort Meade Dental Health Activity, served as the narrator.

“Today we honor this rite of passage as a celebration of the newly promoted joining the ranks of a professional Noncommissioned Officer Corps and emphasize and build on the pride we all share as members of such an elite corps,” Woods said.

“We also honor the memory of those men and women of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps who have served with pride, distinction and have made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Inductees recite the “NCO Creed” Friday during the first NCO Induction Ceremony for Headquarters Command Battalion.

The distinguished guests included Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard; Col. Daniel G. Bonnichsen, commander of U.S. Army Medical Department Activity Fort Meade and Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center; Command Sgt. Maj. Gustavo Gurralo, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity Fort Meade; and Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Elliott Jr. of HCB.

The ceremony began with a musical prelude performed by the Woodwind Quartet of the U.S. Army Field Band and the invocation by Sgt. 1st Class Leeshe Grimes, senior religious affairs NCO for Fort Meade’s Religious Support Office.

Three Soldiers – 1st Sgt. Trish McCavanaugh, 1st Sgt. Shane Courville and 1st Sgt. Ayana Fulks – each lit a red, white and blue candle that symbolized the leadership attributes of the NCO.

In his speech, White shared his thoughts on the enduring legacy of the NCO Corps and why these Soldiers are considered the backbone of the Army.

“The Army has succeeded because of the NCO Corps,” he said. “We will succeed because the NCO Corps will continue to lead the way.”

White said the battles of our nation’s wars are known by the generals who fought them.

“But what is not known and what is not said are the hundreds of NCOs who led these missions for these generals. They go nameless,” White said. “That’s what we do as NCOs — the backbone of the Army.”

The most important point White said he wanted the newly inducted NCOs to remember is that the hallmark of their service will be their ability to be humble.

Once a man or woman joins the military, he said, they are part of a team.

“You have to humble yourself to think of someone else,” White explained.

And as part of a team, the NCO sets an example for others, he said.

“A humble leader readily admits mistakes, “White said. “Everyone makes mistakes. We all do. We all can learn more from these failures than successes.

“A humble NCO is open and thankful. They are appreciative of the input of others. They are thankful and praise the accomplishments of their team.”

Finally, he said, a humble leader “recognizes they can give more than they receive.”

“We as NCOs have been bestowed the responsibility of America’s sons and daughters. … The decisions you make every day as an NCO affect the welfare of every Soldier,” White said.

“Remember, nobody works for you. You wake up every day to work for your Soldiers.”

White also shared how Sgt. Kevin Kelly, a mentor from White’s service with Charlie Battery, 5th Battaltion Air Defense Artillery Regiment at Fort Lewis, Wash,. became a role model for NCO leadership and a friend.

White said Kelly taught him that an NCO serves for a lifetime through selfless service to others.

The 23 Soldiers —representing 2nd Military Working Dog Detachment, Bravo Company, 53rd Signal Battalion, Dental Health Activity, DINFOS, Headquarters Headquarters Company and Kimbrough, — were then inducted into the NCO Corps.

After the induction, Cullen received the “Soldier’s Request” recited by four Soldiers.

The “NCO Charge” was led by Sgt. 1st Class Trey Stokes of the Barquist Army Health Clinic at Fort Detrick, N.J.; Sgt 1st Class Christopher Mott and Sgt. 1st Class Marquise Turner of Kimbrough; and Sgt. 1st Class Justin Heald of Bravo Company, 53rd Signal Battalion.

After the “NCO Charge,” Elliot asked the newly inducted NCOs to raise their right hand as he administered the NCO oath.

Before the end of the ceremony, Cullen presented White with a plaque of appreciation and spoke briefly to the NCOs.

“You are a servant leader now,” Cullen said. “You not only serve your country, but you serve the Soldiers that you have been assigned to mentor and develop.”

Newly inducted NCO Sgt. Jennifer Singer then led her peers in reciting the “NCO Creed.”

The ceremony ended with the Army Song, followed by the cutting of a ceremonial cake.

In celebration, the Soldiers took selfies with their peers and hugged family members.

“I’m excited. It’s a special day,” said Staff Sgt. Skakira Anglin of Bravo Company, 53rd Signal Battalion after being inducted. “It means everything to me. It’s about what we have done and what we continue to do.”

Sgt. Katty Lorna Nava of the Dental Health Activity said becoming an NCO is an important responsibility.

“You feel more powerful, but not to abuse the power,” Nava said. “You have the responsibility to use your power so you can help people.”

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