By COL (MD) Robert Hastings
Maryland Defense Force Public Affairs
19 October 2009
ANNAPOLIS - I will not forget, nor will I allow my comrades to forget that we are professionals, Noncommissioned Officers, leaders! With those words, 28 noncommissioned officers of the Maryland Defense Force were welcomed into the NCO corps during an induction ceremony held at Naval Station Annapolis on October 17, 2009.
Brig. Gen. (MD) Courtney Wilson, commanding general of the Maryland Defense Force, offered opening remarks for the command's first-ever NCO induction ceremony, addressing an audience of MDDF Officers, NCO's, soldiers and family members. The senior noncommissioned officers of the Maryland National Guard – Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Sann, Command Sgt. Maj. Franklin Wright, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Glenn Hart – attended as distinguished guests.
Wilson told the audience that the concept of an NCO summit was inspired by the Army's "Year of the NCO" theme. "When I heard early this year that the Secretary of the Army had declared 2009 the Year of the NCO, it set me thinking about the character and nature of the Maryland Defense Force."
Explaining that the MDDF has been largely dominated by the officer corps for a number of years, Wilson added, "I think we all realized, largely through our experience in the field during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita….that there was an entire layer of leadership missing. It is my sincere hope that, in this Year of the NCO, you…the NCO Corps of the MDDF will find new life, new esprit de corps, new inspiration and new responsibility as a result of this great day."
Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Sann, Command Sgt. Maj. of the Maryland National Guard was the keynote speaker. Sann told the NCO's, "you are the heart and soul, the nervous system, and the eyes and ears that enable MDDF to successfully complete its mission."
The solemn and dignified ceremony, meant to symbolize the significance of the transition to NCO, began with a tribute to fallen soldiers and the playing of Taps. Several readings highlighting the history of the NCO corps, the role of NCO's as leaders and mentors, and the NCO values were conducted by MDDF NCO's and junior soldiers. Ceremonial support was provided by the MDDF Cavalry Troop, the MDDF Band and the Maryland National Guard Joint Force Color Guard.
Planning for the ceremony was coordinated by First Sgt. (MD) Ronald Scott of the MDDF Engineer Corps who said the NCO Council, consisting of the senior NCOs of each of MDDF's subordinate units, has been planning the event since June.
"The induction ceremony underscores MDDF's renewed focus on the NCO, and is intended to enhance the professionalism and esprit de corps of the command's NCOs while acknowledging their many accomplishments," said Scott. "Walking under those crossed sabers held by members of our own cavalry unit was a huge honor and meant we have turned a new page in the MDDF and that our NCO's and the soldiers they lead will be ready when called."
The formal induction into the NCO corps was marked by the NCO Charge led by CSM Sann and the reading the NCO Creed by the group of inductees. Each inducted NCO then marched through a saber arch and was presented a personalized certificate commemorating the event.
In remarks during the ceremony, Sann reminded the newly inducted NCOs of their responsibilities to lead and care for the soldiers entrusted to them, and to support and advise the officers in command. "I see a group of soldiers who truly inspire me," said Sann. "The MDDF has distinguished itself in every mission assigned."
Sgt. Maj. (MD) John Kelly of MDDF's 10th Medical Regiment served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. "I don't know what problems tomorrow's defense force will face," said Kelly. "But I am sure that with a strong and vibrant NCO corps as the backbone of the Maryland Defense Force, we will achieve the highest standards for years to come."
Former Secretary of the Army Pete Geren named 2009 "Year of the NCO" to recognize the commitment of NCOs to service and their willingness to make great sacrifices on behalf of the nation. Throughout the year, the Army is honoring NCOs through initiatives and events that enhance awareness and public understanding of the roles and responsibilities of today's NCO, and enhance and accelerate the development of NCOs through education, fitness and leadership development initiatives. The MDDF is not part of the Army but follows Army customs, courtesies and traditions.
"This is a great step in reestablishing the importance of the Maryland Defense Force NCO Corps," said Sann.