Top enlisted Soldier, Sergeant Major of the Army visits Picatinny
Picatinny Arsenal officials hosted the second of two noncommissioned officer induction ceremonies here this year on Nov. 14.
The Sergeant Major of the Army, Sgt. Maj. Kenneth O. Preston traveled from Washington, D.C., to speak at the special ceremony welcoming 54 area Soldiers into the NCO Corps.
Preston is the highest ranking enlisted Soldier in the Army and right-hand-man to the Chief of the Staff of the Army, Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
The noncommissioned ranks range from corporal to sergeant major of the Army.
NCOs are often referred to as the “backbone of the Army” because they can be found at the front of every Army mission.
They train and lead junior Soldiers in any given mission or military occupational skill. Also, they are often looked upon as “big brothers” by enlisted Soldiers and provide advice and guidance on professional and personal matters.
The former Secretary of the Army, Peter Geren, had declared 2009 as “The Year of the NCO,” and Preston, being the senior NCO in the Army, is doing all he can to help bring notoriety to the enlisted Soldiers.
Preston served as the ceremony’s guest speaker and addressed the newly inducted NCOs, telling them that one thing he wanted them to take away from the day was that NCOs must maintain proper military standards.
Preston described the effect each Soldier has on another Soldier as a domino effect and said nearly every time he has seen or experienced an accident it can be traced back to a failure to enforce standards.
“When you start breaking fundamental standards, such as the proper wear of the uniform, is when you have Soldiers who will stop enforcing of the use of a seatbelt, or the use of an operating manual when doing maintenance on a vehicle,” Preston said.
Each NCO who participated in the ceremony received a copy of the NCO doctrine signed by Preston, a copy of the book “Horse Soldiers” by Doug Stanton and a military coin commemorating the occasion.
The ceremony was attended by several command sergeant majors and sergeant majors to include the Army Materiel Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Major Jeffrey Mellinger.
At the end of Preston’s speech he informed the audience that Mellinger was the last Soldier to be drafted who is still serving on active duty.
The ceremony was also attended by several local elected officials and local American Legion and Veterans of Foreign War post members.
Before the ceremony began, several product and project managers joined the installation’s senior commander, Brig. Gen. Jonathan A. Maddux, and the director of the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, Dr. Joseph A. Lannon, in giving Preston an overview of the Picatinny mission and some of the technology being developed here.
According to the installation’s historian, Dr. Patrick Owens, Picatinny has never been visited by a Sergeant Major of the Army. Preston said that he was honored to be the first to do so.