By 2LT (MDDF) Alessia Timothy
Maryland Defense Force Public Affairs
20 July 2014
Maryland Defense Force (MDDF), continuing a 200-year tradition, hosted a noncommissioned officers’ (NCO) induction ceremony in Pikesville, Maryland on July 19 for nine new sergeants. The ceremony is meant to mark 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. The MDDF ceremony was held at the NCO Club at the Pikesville Military Reservation (PMR). Senior NCOs from across the State of Maryland, and MDDF families and friends watched their state soldiers being welcomed into the ranks of the NCO corps.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Sgt. Maj. (MDDF) Loren Finch, who was the master of ceremonies during this event provided an historical background of the ceremony’s tradition that is traced to the Prussian Army of Frederick the Great. He went on to read a deeply moving “Poem to a fallen soldier,” and then shared some insight into what it means to be a noncommissioned officer. One by one, the state soldiers and senior NCOs stood up from their seats for a “soldier’s request and NCO response” part of the ceremony.
Afterward, three candles were lit. The red candle represented valor and hardiness. The white candle represented honesty and integrity and the blue candle signified vigilance and the field of honor in which an NCO serves. 1st Sgt. Matthew Shertzer, the narrator for the candle lighting ceremony, as he lit the red candle that stands for valor and hardiness, highlighted MDDF’s motto, “Ready When Called.”
The guest speaker, Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Beyard, the command sergeant major of the Maryland Army National Guard’s 29th Combat Aviation Brigade, congratulated the new NCOs on their success, and shared some lessons from his career. The ceremony ended with the reading of the "Charge of the Non-Commissioned Officer" and the "Creed of the Non-Commissioned Officer" as well as some parting words of wisdom from senior NCOs.
Closing remarks were made by Col. (MDDF) James Coleman, the Chief of Staff for the MDDF. He emphasized that the ceremony “allows us to instill in a state soldier the significance of being an NCO and also gives them their first experience of the pride and respect that goes along with being a member of the NCO corps.” Col. (MDDF) Coleman then addressed the senior NCOs and charged them with helping the newest members of their ranks to grow their leadership skills.
The Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) is the State’s uniformed volunteer military unit providing professional and technical assistance to the Maryland Military Department. Established in 1917, the MDDF consists of nearly 450 personnel who perform legal, engineering, finance, medical, chaplain, field support and ceremonial services for the State of Maryland. For more information: www.mddf.maryland.gov.