KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - The room is dark and hot. The sweat is beading off your forehead and six high-ranking noncommissioned officers sit glaring at you. Their eyes are cold; they lock on to you, and seem to notice every move you make. But in all your life, you have never wanted to stay in a room more than now. Then they ask a question.

"[Sergeant], your Soldier comes to you and he's new in your unit, he has three kids, they have no place to live, and most of his paycheck is spent on paying off his credit card. What do you do'" asked Sgt. Maj. Ruby Murray, future operations sergeant major for 7th Sustainment Brigade, deployed from Fort Eustis, Va.

A question like this prepares candidates for Kandahar Airfield's first Sergeant Audie Murphy Club board.

The Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is devoted to molding NCOs into better leaders. Murray, the chapter president, oversees the strenuous membership process.

"There's a difference between a sergeant and a noncommissioned officer," said Murray, an Exmore, Va., native. "This club builds a foundation for noncommissioned officers and gives them the opportunity to excel at a higher level."

Second Lieutenant Audie Murphy, a man who is often associated with military accomplishment, earned 33 decorations and awards during his military service, including the Medal of Honor, for his valorous actions during World War II. In 1986 the first Sergeant Audie Murphy Club was founded to honor his commitment to excellence and identify NCOs who share that determination.

"I'm very happy to be given this chance, especially during a deployment, because I never thought I would have an opportunity to become a member here," said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Mathis, automated logistical specialist, Forward Support Company, 8th Engineer Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas.

Being in a deployed environment can be challenging for the SAMC candidates. They must find a balance between working long hours and studying for the board.

"It gives me chills and inspires me to see these sergeants take on this extra challenge in the danger zone," said Murray. "The majority of them are out on the road pulling between 12 and 16 hour shifts."

The club offers candidates the opportunity to combine their strengths and weaknesses in order to develop them as a whole. Sharing their knowledge also lessens the workload placed on each individual.

"Every day we meet to drill each other on different scenarios we come across," said Mathis, a Carthage, N.Y., native.

The effort put forth by the candidates has not gone unnoticed by their chapter president.

"By showing that extra dedication, it tells me that they want to be the best noncommissioned officer they can be," said Murray.

Mathis said, like Audie Murphy, the club is made up of elite noncommissioned officers who lead from the front and set the standards for other Soldiers to follow.

"I'm very dedicated about being a better NCO," Mathis said. "The reason why I want to be a member of the club is because I have the utmost passion to be a lead and mentor."

That dedication will be put to the test as she continues to prepare for the challenges to come.

"I look forward to this push towards the Sergeant Audie Murphy board; being taken to hell and back to become a better NCO," said Mathis.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16