Written by Sgt. 1st Class Peter Mayes
101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (AA) Public Affairs
Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan – Like many of his contemporaries, Sgt. Socorro Garcia waited what seemed like an eternity for this day. On this particular day he would finally be officially recognized as a new sergeant in the Army.
Never mind he had already made the promotion points cutoff and was wearing his hard stripes. This day, he and his fellow new non-commissioned officers would be officially brought over into the brotherhood of NCOs through the induction ceremony.
Approximately 26 newly pinned NCOs took part in the ceremony at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center Clamshell and hosted by the 101st Special Troops Battalion, 101st Sust. Bde.One by one, each newly promoted NCO stepped through the archway and into their new positions and responsibilities.
Garcia, a former cavalry scout who is now an administrative NCO with the 101st Sustainment Brigade, said the promotion was a long time coming.
“It was pretty difficult watching my peers go ahead of me and watching them progress, but I had to learn the job before I could lead soldiers to do the job,” he said.
Garcia was not alone in his assessment.
“I was looking forward to it, and yeah I was ready for it to come,” said Sgt. Dionne Brown, communications non-commissioned officer in charge, Alpha Company, 101st Special Troops Bn., 101st Sust. Bde.
Brown said the camaraderie of deployment made the promotion to sergeant special. “The fact that you’re out here with your peers and you’re in combat with them makes it better,” she said.
Sgt. Eduardo Jones, help desk non-commissioned officer in charge, 101st Sust. Bde., said he credits the Army’s new promotion point system in helping him attain his rank.
“The ceremony finalizes the whole process of becoming an NCO,” he said. “Coming out here, I thought I was going to be just part of a team, and I’ve ended up taking over one. It feels great to get the rank and respect. It’s the whole personal satisfaction of saying, ‘Hey, I did it’,” he said.
There is no actual manual on conducting an NCO Induction Ceremony, and as a result, different units add their own traditions and twists on bringing young enlisted soldiers over into leadership.
The one commonality, however, remains constant: the rite of passage for an enlisted soldier into the non-commissioned officers’ ranks is always one to remember.
“It’s a solemn event that every NCO should go through,” said 1st Sgt. Terance Clay, company first sergeant, 101st Sust. Bde. “Once you transition from a specialist to a sergeant, it means a lot. It’s not just a promotion; it’s an addition of your duties and responsibilities, not only to your superiors, but to your subordinates.”
Being promoted to the rank of sergeant in and of itself is quite an accomplishment for these soldiers. To be promoted in a combat theater gives the promotion a different perspective, Clay said.
“It adds a dynamic to the deployment. It’s a momentous occasion in their careers that they’re being recognized for their accomplishment. It’s unique to their deployment and adds a special time to be remembered,” he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Sharon Gervais, non-commissioned officer in charge of finance operations, 101st Finance Company, 101st Sust. Bde., agreed with Clay’s assessment.
“Sometimes, newly promoted NCOs don’t get to have one of these, so I worked hard to get everyone in my section who was eligible to be a part of it,” she said. “Being promoted here in Afghanistan is something I don’t think they’ll ever forget. It’s part of their lives and part of their being proud of their accomplishment. They’ll never forget this.”
Gervais said she had three soldiers from her company that were inducted in the ceremony. Their promotions here also had a special meaning for her, as she is preparing to retire from the Army after she re-deploys.
“As this will probably be my last deployment, I won’t forget this moment either,” she said.