Airmen, Soldiers celebrate passage into NCO corps

by Staff Sgt. Victor J. Caputo, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Stripes Korea
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- In a literal representation of the transition from junior enlisted to noncommissioned officer, nearly 70 Airmen, Soldiers and Korean Augmentees to the United States Army passed under an arch topped by traditional corporal stripes during a joint NCO induction ceremony on Feb. 16.

The unique rite was hosted by the U.S. Army 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, one of Team Osan’s partner units, and saw hundreds of fellow Airmen and Soldiers fill the enlisted club ballroom to capacity as the base’s newest NCOs were recognized for their achievements.

“Being inducted means I truly am a sergeant now,” said Sgt. Choi, Min Gyu, 6-52 ADA Battalion. “By going through that gate, I was officially recognized as a leader, and I learned I have higher standards to live up to.”

The keynote speaker for the event was Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Merritt, Eighth Army command sergeant major. The veteran soldier hammered home the adage “expect what you inspect,” meaning each NCO was responsible for more than just themselves now, and that high standards will lead to high levels of readiness.

While the ceremony was an Army-sponsored event, the differences between the role of an NCO in the Army and Air Force bear little distinction: both are responsible for ensuring the proper training, equipping and employment of junior enlisted forces while maintaining discipline and good order.

“As you look at your brothers-in-arms around you, remember that we are all part of one big team, and that if it comes down to it, we have to have each other’s backs in the big fight,” said Chief Master Sgt. Alexander del Valle, 51st Fighter Wing command chief. “You may have different titles and customs, but the common goal remains the same: we’re here to ensure the safety of more than 51 million people, and together we can accomplish that goal.”

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