After years of preparation, the day had finally come.
Sgt. Willie Hentz received his sergeant stripe Nov. 2 inside the Kelley Theater on Kelley Barracks, promoting him to the rank of noncommissioned officer, alongside 13 other U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Soldiers newly-inducted into the NCO Corps.
“I’m speechless,” Hentz said, looking around at his fellow NCOs following the ceremony. “I’ve been waiting for this for eight years.”
While Hentz, a 52nd Signal Battalion Soldier, was one of two Soldiers to receive their promotion during the ceremony, the other 12 Soldiers present were just as excited to be inducted officially as an NCO.
“It’s a milestone for me,” said Sgt. Marzett Grant, who works for European Command. “I feel like I have a lot to give to our Soldiers. I’m excited.”
Inductees came from various units in in the garrison, including the 52nd Signal Battalion (which hosted the event), EUCOM and the 554th Military Police Company
At the start of the ceremony, the theater lights dimmed and three candles were lit, symbolizing the traits of an NCO: courage, purity and valor.
Command Sgt. Major Ralph R. Beam, command sergeant major for U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army, spoke to the new NCOs on the importance of leading Soldiers by example.
“More is expected from you when people see those stripes,” he said.
Beam, who plans to retire soon, encouraged the new NCOs to take the reins of leadership. “In 10 years, we’re [still] going to have an Army, and it’s going to be led by you,” he said.
Command Sgt. Major Mark A. George, command sergeant major for the 52nd Signal Battalion, said he hoped the new NCOs left the ceremony with an appreciation for their new responsibilities as an NCO. “Life is different now,” he said. “It’s time for you to have initiative.”
Those new responsibilities are also in the NCO creed, which was recited during the ceremony.
For several NCOs, including Grant, the creed is a blueprint for their upcoming years in the Army. “It gave me the fundamentals on how to be a more professional NCO,” Grant said “Integrity is really special. [Even] when nobody’s around, I make sure that I’m doing the right thing. That’s the making of a good NCO.”