By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – Sergeants just wanna be sergeants, and now they have a place on post that's all their own.

Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola, III Corps' senior noncommissioned officer, cut a ribbon for the new lounge, The Backbone, Friday at the Phantom Warrior Center.

"Here, we can revel in being sergeants," Ciotola said.

"Backbone" refers to a common belief that noncommissioned officers are the "backbone of the Army," as many Army officials have said.

The ribbon-cutting followed an induction ceremony for 26 new noncommissioned officers (NCOs) from units across Fort Hood, including the 3rd Air Support Operations Group, the post's Air Force unit.

Induction ceremonies are a way to formally welcome new sergeants into the noncommissioned officer corps.

The ribbon-cutting and ceremony were hosted by Fort Hood in honor of 2009's Year of the Noncommissioned Officer. Secretary of the Army Pete Geren announced late last year that 2009 would be the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer, according to information from the Army.

Ciotola, who first pinned on NCO stripes in 1978, said the induction ceremony was like a commencement.

The men and women honored Friday provide a clear understanding of why the U.S. Army is the envy of the world, Ciotola said later. They will embrace the new while continuing to live by the timeless standards of discipline, camaraderie, esprit de corps and endurance.

For more on The Backbone and a list of all the NCOs inducted Friday, read next week's Fort Hood Herald.

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at or (254) 501-7547.

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