MNBG-E NCOs inducted into Sergeant Morales Club
December 20, 2013
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo - "Strong soldiers developed by strong leaders, strong teams compromised of strong soldiers," said U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. David S. Davenport Sr., U.S. Army Europe Command Sergeant Major and a Nashville, Tenn. native.
Davenport, along with commanders, peers and soldiers from Multinational Battle Group-East, attended the Sgt. Morales Club induction ceremony at Camp Bondsteel Dec. 17 as 11 noncommissioned officers from MNBG-E were recognized for their hard work and dedication to the Army.
"It's about making our noncommissioned officer corps stronger," Davenport said. "I think these 11 NCOs are a perfect example of fit, disciplined and well-trained soldiers that work hard every day to improve their piece of the Army profession and to take care of soldiers and their families."
According to the club's history, the Sgt. Morales Club was established in 1973 by then commander for USAREUR, Lt. Gen. George S. Blanchard, to "promote the highest ideals of integrity, professionalism and leadership for the enlisted force serving in Europe."
Davenport said NCOs who become members of the Sergeant Morales Club exemplify a special kind of leadership characterized by general concern for the needs, training, development and welfare of soldiers.
"These noncommissioned officers being inducted today, stepped up and endured the rigorous and competitive process to become members of this exclusive club," Davenport said. "They emulate and contribute the attributes of Sgt. Morales in their units day-in, day-out, whether in garrison or deployed, on or off duty. They lead from the front. They show genuine true care and concern for soldiers and their families."
The inductees were put through multiple review boards and an Army Physical Fitness Test in their pursuit of joining the prestigious club.
"The process was a lot of studying," said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Hipple, a Pittsburgh native and the noncommissioned officer in charge of Liaison Monitoring Team 4. "The E-4 and below that I have in my platoon helped me study. We had a lot of [group] study halls with all the people attending the board. It was a big group effort and [provided] a lot of professional development from senior leaders."
Hipple said he spent a lot of time talking to fellow NCOs and getting feedback on how they would handle various day-to-day situations. The questions at the board focused on situational problems and didn't necessarily have a right or wrong answer.
As the lowest ranking member of the new inductees, U.S. Army Cpl. Kirsten Cooper, an assistant team leader for Company C, 1st Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment and a native of Mayersville, Wa., said he did a lot of studying with teammates and maintained his physical fitness. He added that becoming a member of the Sergeant Morales Club was a very proud moment.
"To me, [joining this club] represents what Sgt. Morales was," Cooper said. "He was a fictional character, but he represented an NCO and a good leader. I think that's what this club is about: being a good leader and taking care of your soldiers."
Hipple said it felt good to be apart of the club and that it was an accomplishment for him.
"Fifteen years ago I never thought I would have done something like this when I first came in [the Army]," Hipple said.
Although Sgt. Morales and his story is a fictional tale created to exemplify the ideal NCO, Hipple said he could relate to the story of Sgt. Morales and the qualities he had.
"He took care of soldiers, and was a professional and I feel that I try to do that each and every day," he said.
For soldiers interested in becoming a member of the elite club, Hipple said it is really simple: live the NCO creed every day, accomplish the mission and act professional.
"I had a sergeant when I was a private and that is one thing he told me, that he tries to live the NCO creed every day," Hipple said. "That is something that stuck with me over the 15 years, so that's something I would look for [in a potential member.] Be yourself and take care of your soldiers."
Davenport told those attending the ceremony that joining the Sergeant Morales Club should be seen as an investment in the future of the NCO Corps and challenged all leaders to continue to identify soldiers deserving of this great honor.
"In my heart I believe that Sgt. Morales is still important after almost 40 years," Davenport said. "Make that investment in [soldiers] so that one day they can become members and positive contributors to our NCO Corps."