Keesler hosts rare induction ceremony

It was a special Saturday at Keesler Air Force Base. Twenty military men and women were inducted as staff sergeants and master sergeants. WLOX was there for the first ever induction ceremony of its kind, to publicly recognize these officer's new positions.

Ashley Bever joined the military active duty in 2007, and on Saturday she was promoted to staff sergeant, a personal goal of hers. "This is on my path. I'm on my way up," said Bever.

Alexander Cruz has been in the military for 13 years, and he is now a master sergeant. "It felt great to be recognized in front of the rest of the 403rd Wing, and to be up there with the rest of colleagues that are getting inducted," said Cruz.

This ceremony is the first of its kind for the 403rd Wing at Keesler. Promotions to staff sergeant and master sergeant happen annually, but induction ceremonies are not the norm. Chief Christopher Barnby says he is glad to begin making this a tradition. "It's an effort to reaffirm and to establish the legitimacy of stepping into the NCO and the senior NCO rank," said Chief Barnby.

Chief Christopher Barnby has only been with the 403rd Wing for two months, but says no matter what military base you operate on, it's important to honor those who work hard to get to these positions. "It re-blues us. It reminds us of the country we serve, the people, we serve. It reminds of the charge that we're required to uphold higher standards," said Chief Barnby.

As part of the ceremony, nine candles were lit. Candle one was lit by airmen with no rank, and candle nine was lit by two chief master sergeants.  Chief Barnby called it a symbolic reminder of the steps that have to be taken in order to reach the top.

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