Audie Murphy Club
Brig. Gen. Jeff Mathis, left, places the Sgt. Audie Murphy Award on Sgt. 1st Class Scott Howerton's neck at a ceremony Friday, Sept 25, 2009. Sgt. Murphy was an NCO who, as a squad leader, consistently demonstrated the highest qualities of leadership, professionalism and regard for the welfare of his soldiers. The award is given to NCOs who have demonstrated similar qualities.

FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Three Fort Lewis Soldiers count themselves among the ranks of NCOs inducted into Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, after a ceremony Sept. 25.

Proudly wearing the Sergeant Audie Murphy Award medallion, Sgt. Blake Jones, Sgt. 1st Class William Byrd and Sgt. 1st Class Scott Howerton successfully completed selection into the prestigious organization that recognizes professionalism, leadership and contributions to the Army community.

Byrd, the most senior inductee with 17 years' service under his belt, said joining SAMC is an honor for him and the memory of his late father.

"It has a lot of personal meaning to me," Byrd said. "My father had always wanted to become a member."

Howerton said he was encouraged to become a member by his first sergeant on several occasions in the past and finally felt the time was right.

"It means being an example," Howerton said. "I'm continuing the long lineage of history and what the club represents."

Jones said receiving the award is one of the highlights of his three years in the Army.

"It means everything to me - what it represents," Jones said.

The original SAMC began at Fort Hood, Texas, early in 1986.

It has since grown Armywide and includes more than 3,000 members.

Inductees have to show exemplary professionalism, pass a written exam and a board interview prior to being awarded membership.

The I Corps (Rear) Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Eugene Jeffers said SAMC is a good way for NCOs to hone strong leadership skills.

"I still recall things that were taught to me by my leaders right here on Fort Lewis when I was a private," Jeffers said.

Jeffers cited being taught "a tight rucksack is a happy rucksack," as an example of the kind of lifesaving tip that an experienced NCO shared with him early in his 27-year career.

"I've seen so many accidents (happen) when somebody didn't take the time to do that," he said.

Jeffers said SAMC encourages NCOs to realize the important nuances that go into being an effective leader.

"The number one important thing is to know your soldiers - know their strengths and weaknesses," Jeffers said. "That way you can build a more cohesive team."

Lieutenant Audie Murphy started off as an enlisted infantryman and eventually earned the distinction of having won more valor medals than any person in U.S. history.

Beginning in 1943, Murphy served as an NCO with Company B, First Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, Third Infantry Division in North Africa and the European theater.

He was given a battlefield commission after distinguishing himself during combat in France and won the Medal of Honor for single-handedly routing an armored column while simultaneously eliminating more than 50 German infantrymen.

After his time in the Army, Murphy went on to act in many Hollywood films until his death in 1971.

The spirit of Murphy's leadership lives on through the members of SAMC.

Active- and reserve-component Soldiers in the ranks of corporal through master sergeant are eligible to compete for membership in SAMC.

Soldiers identified for their outstanding leadership and professionalism can be recommended to their command sergeants major to learn more about this organization.

Rick Wood is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.

Page last updated Fri October 9th, 2009 at 17:23