Throughout history, the transition from junior enlisted to noncommissioned officers has been reserved for the best and most capable Soldiers. Army tradition prescribes that units honor this milestone with an induction ceremony marking the distinct passage of each Soldier from trusting their leadership to becoming part of it.

Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps, recognized 48 newly promoted NCOs during an induction ceremony at Pope Theater, Jan. 21. Inductees included sergeants from Headquarters Support Company, Operations Company, Intelligence Security Company and Signal Company, with 13 sergeants attached from 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division.

Command Sgt. Maj. Dexter K. Ferguson, command sergeant major of HHBn, XVIII Abn. Corps, hosted the ceremony and stressed the importance of this tradition.

“(This ceremony) signifies the Soldier’s move from being a follower to being a leader,” Ferguson said. “It is the responsibility of all senior noncommissioned officers to make sure that this tradition continues.”

Sergeants lit the NCO spirits ­— red, white and blue candles signifying courage, commitment and valor, respectively.

As guest speaker at the ceremony, Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse L. Andrews Jr., Task Force Bragg command sergeant major, motivated inductees by emphasizing the importance and potential of competent NCOs in the Army.

“We must all remain grounded in our Army values, the NCO Creed, the Soldier’s Creed and our Warrior Ethos,” Andrews read to the inductees. “These cannot just be words that are said and things that are memorized; you have to live, eat, sleep, drink and most importantly, act these things out on a daily basis.”

Andrews used quotes and personal experience to convey the influence noncommissioned officers have in shaping the Army.

Maj. Joseph Scott, operations officer with HHBn, XVIII Abn. Corps, attended the ceremony and agreed with Andrews wholeheartedly.

“Any officer who has had any success in the Army, has been because of what their NCOs have done with them and for them,” Scott said. “A big part of my leadership style was shaped by my NCOs.”

As the NCO spirits burned, so did the pride of each inductee when they crossed through the arch and received an NCO Creed and Charge. Later, inductees and NCOs bellowed the NCO Creed.

“I feel exhilarated,” said Sgt. Jason Mullaney, signals intelligence analyst with Intelligence Security Co., who constructed the arch for the ceremony. “I feel going over the creed once more and getting to hear from the sergeants major really empowers you again. It just really pumped us up and made us feel good today.”

After completing the ceremony with the XVIII Abn. Corps and Army song, inductees took time to reflect on what being an NCO means to them.

“NCOs are the forefront; we’re the example,” said Sgt. Andrew Terrell, video teleconference NCO with Signal Co. “Soldiers will listen to what you say, but at the end of the day, they’re going to do what you do.”

Leading by example was a common theme throughout the ceremony, reminding each inductee of the responsibility that comes with the Soldiers whose development now rests in their hands.

“The best part of being an NCO is training Soldiers, teaching them what it’s like to be an NCO and giving them the tools to succeed,” said Mullaney. “And seeing them succeed is the highlight of being an NCO.”