Staff Sgt. Joel Pena
10th Mountain Division Journalist
Soldiers, friends and Family Members rejoiced as 23 of Fort Drum’s finest noncommissioned officers were inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club during an award ceremony Dec. 3 at the Commons.
The inductees exemplified leadership characterized by personal concern for the needs, training, development and welfare of Soldiers.
Audie Murphy is considered by many as a great American war hero and a legend in his own time.
Through Murphy’s persistence, courage and leadership, he became the most decorated U.S. Army Soldier of World War II. His very essence and prowess set the standard for NCOs who aspire to go above and beyond their basic leadership role.
In his honor, the SAMC was established to recognize and pay tribute to NCOs who exemplify and demonstrate “Audie Murphy-like” characteristics and abilities, setting the standards for excellence.
The SAMC is an exclusive U.S. Army organization for noncommissioned officers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and performance.
To be inducted, SAMC candidates go through a series of boards where they will be tested in a variety of areas that include Audie Murphy’s history; Army training, leader development, drill and ceremonies; policies and procedures for property accountability; Army command policy; Family / Soldier support programs; first aid; military justice; and military customs and courtesies, to name a few.
Candidates also must pass the Army Physical Fitness Test, which consists of two minutes of pushups, two minutes of sit-ups and a timed two-mile run. It is critical to score 270 or above to be accepted into the club.
With a motto of “You lead from the front,” SAMC members have a reputation they are privileged to uphold.
The ceremony began with the singing of the national anthem, an invocation and the reading of Murphy’s biography by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Meadows, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 10th Mountain Division (LI).
After the introduction, the induction of new members began.
Fellow Soldiers stepped to the podium and proudly talked about their NCOs as leaders and mentors and how the inductees embody the Army values. As they spoke, Command Sgt. Maj. Rick Merritt, 10th Mountain Division (LI) senior enlisted adviser, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey L. Dunkelberger, Noncommissioned Officers Academy commandant, placed the Audie Murphy Award Medallion over each NCO’s head and welcomed him or her to the SAMC.
After the induction, the guest speaker for the occasion was presented.
Merritt shared how humbled and honored he felt to be part of such a prestigious event.
“The fact that we would have our Soldiers introduce and speak so highly of their sergeants – that is what this is all about,” Merritt said.
“Tonight’s event is to reward NCOs whose leadership achievements and performance merit special recognition,” he said. “It is also a means of recognizing those NCOs who have contributed significantly to the development of a professional NCO Corps and a combat-ready Army.”
Dunkelberger also expressed his gratitude to the SAMC inductees.
“This is the first induction ceremony (for the Fort Drum Sergeant Audie Murphy Club) in 11 years,” Dunkelberger said.
One of the inductees, Sgt. 1st Class Brian W. Earnhardt, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, said he hopes to use his experience develop his Soldiers.
“I think this is best experience of my life,” Earnhardt said. “This has prepared me to be a better NCO and to give back to my community, which is something that I’m eager to do.”
The night concluded with dinner and a photo opportunity, as Family Members and friends congratulated the 23 new SAMC inductees.
“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Merritt said. “The SAMC is just the beginning. You have a lot to offer and a great career ahead of you, to keep giving back.”
1st Brigade Combat Team
Sgt. 1st Class Jacey Callahan
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Cunningham
Sgt. 1st Class Brian Earnhardt
Sgt. 1st Class Davis Geig
Staff Sgt. Michael Beaudon
Staff Sgt. Doyle J. Davis
Staff Sgt. Joseph Dunne
Staff Sgt. Robert Points
Staff Sgt. Justine Storie
Staff Sgt. Catherine Timbs
2nd Brigade Combat Team
Sgt. 1st Class Renan Martinez
Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Morey
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Robinson
Sgt. 1st Class Cheavlier Slaughter
Sgt. 1st Class William Somoza
Staff Sgt. Claudia Allen
Staff Sgt. Sasha Brando
Staff Sgt. Randall Fuller
Staff Sgt. Luis R. Sanchez
Staff Sgt. Juana Torres
10th Combat Aviation Brigade
Sgt. Jacob Horspool
10th Sustainment Brigade
Sgt. 1st Class Wilna Rappel
Sgt. 1st Class Sean Kirk