RICHMOND, Va. –
The Virginia National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division welcomed 12 Soldiers to the noncommissioned officer corps during an NCO Induction Ceremony held April 18, 2021, at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Sandston, Virginia. The ceremony honored those Soldiers promoted to the rank of sergeant over the last two years.
“America’s NCO Corps didn’t just happen. It evolved over the years, tapping ideas and innovation from many sources,” explained 1st Sgt. Kevin Vineyard, first sergeant for the 2-224th’s Alpha Company. He provided a history of the NCO Corps during the ceremony and explained the long history of the U.S. Army NCO, the many influences that led to the creation of the NCO Corps and their relevance and importance to the force both historically and today. “The noncommissioned officer’s traditional role of service to the nation is older than the nation itself,” Vineyard said.
Following the historical overview of the NCO Corps, senior NCOs from the battalion took turns reading each of the three paragraphs of the NCO Creed and lighting symbolic candles. The first lit was red, to represent “the blood, sweat and tears shed by the NCO Corps in every conflict from the Revolutionary War to our present-day war on terror.” Next was a white candle to represent the “corp’s pure spirit and integrity,” dedication to caring for Soldiers and their families, and the camaraderie and esprit de corps of the NCO Corps. The last candle lit was blue to represent the “strength and mettle of the corps, its moral courage, and its refusal to compromise on standards, integrity, loyalty and love of fair play.”
“As you step across the line as a noncommissioned officer, know that you are critical to the health and welfare, the safety and the mission accomplishment of your unit,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Alan M. Ferris, the 29th Infantry Division command sergeant major, during his remarks at the ceremony. After approximately 40 years of service, the ceremony marked the last day in uniform for Ferris before his retirement.
“As a sergeant, you’re going from being a Soldier, you’re going from that position where you’re not quite a leader yet, you’re stepping across the line where you have to become a leader of Soldiers, a mentor to your officers. You have to take care of your Soldiers, you have to make sure they stay safe,” Ferris said. The line between Soldier and NCO, he said, “is a difficult line to cross.”
Sgt. Alexander Roahrig, newly-promoted in 2019 and assigned to the battalion’s Headquarters Company, said he had never been to an NCO Induction Ceremony before, but was honored to be recognized in front of his leaders, peers and subordinates.
“It shows the lower enlisted that there is potential and that the higher command cares,” Roahrig said. Plus, he said, “It’s just good to show pride in what we do and that we can come together even in this time frame to do things of this sort.”
Each of the 12 new NCOs received a copy of the NCO Creed, the Noncommissioned Officer Guide and a certificate signifying their move into the NCO Corps.
Sgt. Alexander Smith, assigned to the 2-224th’s Alpha Company was also promoted in 2019 and had some advice for junior Soldiers looking to join the ranks of the NCO Corps: “Take care of the things that they can control, like [fitness] tests, showing up in the right place, right time. There’s a lot of intangibles or noncoachables that depend a lot on your personality and it has a lot to do with being willing to take charge.”
Smith said the ceremony meant a lot to him, that it “matters to me to be part of such a great organization, to be part of a group, to have a common understanding of what is expected of us, while also maintaining a standard.”
As Ferris closed his remarks, he said, “There’s no military force in the world that has the quality of NCOs that we do.”