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Sgt. 1st Class Justin McClure, far right, president of the Sgt. Morales Club Hohenfels Training Area chapter, speaks to current and potential members at a club meeting. McClure and other NCOs are working to revive the club at Hohenfels.

HOHENFELS, Germany - After 12 months spent recognizing noncommissioned officers as the backbone of the Army--the Army designated 2009 as the Year of the NCO--the professionalism and dedication of NCOs has been well documented, and one group of Hohenfels Soldiers is committed to advancing those traits even further by reinvigorating the Sgt. Morales Club at Hohenfels.

Created to recognize and develop exemplary noncommissioned officers, the Sgt. Morales Club is the U.S. Army Europe equivalent of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club with similarly selective and intense membership criteria. Both clubs encourage members to not just strive for excellence at work, but also to become active in the community.

Hohenfels has not had an active Morales Club chapter for years, something Sgt. 1st Class Justin McClure, president of the Hohenfels Training Area chapter, and his fellow board members Sgt. 1st Class Tony Turman, club vice president, and Sgt. 1st Class John Zubik, treasurer, are working to change.

"We want to bring it back (an active Sgt. Morales Club at Hohenfels) so we can give back to the community," said McClure. He said he eventually wants the club to regularly support various community events throughout the year.

"We will be focused on mentoring Soldiers, especially single Soldiers," said Command Sgt. Major Micheal Clowser, club advisor. He said the Sgt. Morales Club plans to work closely with Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers.

Volunteering in the community and mentoring young Soldiers is just one way Sgt. Morales Club members fulfill their mission of being exceptional leaders both on and off the job, said McClure.

"It's the total Soldier concept, being a 360 Soldier. That is what it has always been about even before those words starting being used all the time," said McClure. "It separates you from your peers. It is a significant accomplishment."

To become a Sgt. Morales Club member, a Soldier must make it through a four-part selection phase that begins with a nomination from the NCO's first sergeant and includes three selection boards. McClure said at its fastest, the process takes at least four months.

Among many other requirements, the nominee must build and maintain a leader's book filled with information on their Soldiers and a dizzying amount of Army regulations and procedures.

"You become a walking Army book. When I say it challenges you, I cannot stress that enough," he said, explaining that the process builds an NCO's skills, knowledge and ability to take care of his Soldiers.

"Soldiers see that; they comprehend that 'I never see him look anything up, but he knows everything.' They want to be like you good, bad or indifferent so when they see you doing things right, they will challenge themselves to be like you which challenges you right back," said McClure.

Staff Sgt. Stephane Dia, a JMRC Falcon, said observing Sgt. Morales Club NCOs made him want to join.

"It is a very prestigious club. The people I have looked up to have been in it. I have seen the work they have done. It is about helping the community and making an impact--not just for Soldiers, but for civilians and kids also--and being an example for the community," said Dia.

Like Dia, other potential members are already getting involved and have been paired with mentors to help them through the lengthy membership selection process.

While the selection process may be long and grueling, making it through brings significant advantages. Advisors and members alike said Sgt. Morales Club membership can be a bonus for any NCO looking to advance his career, though that is only one of the benefits.

"Yes it is good for your career, but it is so much more than that. It is about being part of a team and giving back," said McClure. "It's fun to be part of something bigger and it's always nice to give back. I remember what it was like to be a joe, a young Soldier with nothing."

Page last updated Mon January 4th, 2010 at 06:46