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Non-commissioned officers honored by the state of Pennsylvania

  • Published
  • By Technical Sgt. Stacey Gault
  • 171 ARW/PA
As for most crucial battles, Gettysburg was an opportunity for
military leaders and war heroes to emerge and accomplish great
feats. Almost 150 years later, a group of Pennsylvania Soldiers and
Airmen gathered on the same fields to study the history of those who
fought before them.
Non-commissioned officer (NCO) corps played a significant role
in Gettysburg. To honor past and present NCOs, approximately 100
current members were chosen by their commanders based on leadership
and performance to tour the infamous battlefield. A traditional
Army guardsman and high school history teacher, Maj. Joseph Pfadt
served as one of the several tour guides providing detail at each battle
site. He also incorporated information on the NCOs role during the
Civil War. "We must reflect on what was done here and how it affects
who we are and what we do today," said Pfadt. He continued
to explain; if the commanding officer was killed, the NCOs ran the
Army and took charge of the soldiers. The event was part of the
Army's 2009 Year of the NCO program. Shortly after it's kickoff in
February, Governor Ed Rendell also declared 2009 the year of the
NCO. It is the second celebration in 20 years.
In addition to the tour, each NCO was presented a certificate and
coin from the Adjutant General, Major General Jessica L. Wright and
Sergeant Major Don Shiner. During the ceremony, Wright recounted
her experience and said there was an NCO every step of her military
career that made her a better officer. "The NCO is the backbone of the
military." She continued to explain how important it was to include
the Air Force in this traditionally Army celebration because we are
a joint force that "works hand in glove."
Maj. Rich Howett also served as a tour guide, who finished the
visit by reading Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address to the group
of Pennsylvania guardsmen. To conclude, he emphasized how important
NCOs are to each officer, including him. He offered these
words, "It is you the NCOs that I think, give us the best training."