FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (March 12, 2009) - When Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Bragg left Fort Leavenworth for the 82nd Airborne earlier this month, he did so with a Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and a letter to his commander announcing his membership in the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.

The Fort Leavenworth SAMC is an elite group of noncommissioned officers who volunteer in the community. Club-sponsored events include today's blood drive, visits to the Eisenhower Veterans Affairs Medical Center, highway cleanups, reading day at Bradley Elementary School and many other volunteering opportunities.

Sgt. 1st Class Shaun Coker, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, serves as Fort Leavenworth's SAMC president. SAMC is gearing up for the Year of the NCO kickoff event and club induction at 1 p.m. March 17 in the Lewis and Clark Center. At this event, Staff Sgt. Brenda Reed-Miller, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 705th Military Police Internment and Resettlement Battalion, and Sgt. Melinda Griffin, Medical Activity, will be inducted as official SAMC members. German Sgt. Maj. Ronnie Raemsch, on post with his country's liaison office, will be inducted as an honorary SAMC member.

Gaining membership in SAMC is not easy, Coker said. Each member must go through an extensive background check, boards and physical tests. There are currently three perspective SAMC members on post going through the admission process in addition to the inductees.

"They know it's a hard board," Coker said. "Some are nervous; some aren't ready. Sometimes it takes two or three times to get into it. It's a daunting task because when you're in the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, you're a step up professionally. People look at you differently."

Coker said SAMC membership also helps NCOs during promotions.

"Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is a place they can use their skills and volunteering with the community. It gives them an outlet to hone their leadership skills," he said.

Likewise, members of the SAMC hold themselves to a high standard. Those who receive anything negative, such as disciplinary action on their record, can have their membership revoked.

Overseas, the Sergeant Morales Club is the European equivalent to SAMC, Coker said.

The club also bestows community and spouse awards, such as the Margaret C. Corbin Award in the Training and Doctrine Command and Dr. Mary Walker Award in Forces Command.

This year, the club is also planning a beautification event for the Dragoon wall, a collection for a local battered woman's shelter and assistance in building Habitat for Humanity homes in Leavenworth.

Coker said with attention paid to noncommissioned officers during 2009's Year of the NCO, those NCOs should also focus on their unique roles in the Army.

"The whole Year of the NCO is about how we NCOs need to focus on what we mean to the Army as a whole, in our mission to lead Soldiers and being beside officers."

Throughout the Army, he said, it's the NCOs who make things happen.

"NCOs are the rubber that meets the road," he said. "We have to wear many hats and make sure all our hats are squared away."

With the high operational tempo in today's Army, Coker said NCOs are getting the best training. He said the leadership aspect is up to them.

"We've got to give direction and motivation and purpose to those Soldiers," he said.

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