NCOs rewarded for their efforts by being inducted into Sgt. Audie Murphy Club
January 12, 2012
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- There are sergeants, and then there are noncommissioned officers.
At least, that's what Sgt. 1st Class John Hardy always says. The NCOs always go the extra mile to set themselves apart -- and four on Joint Base Lewis-McChord have recently been recognized for that effort.
Staff Sergeants Masasinge Hadley, Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, Allister Hawkins, 42nd Military Police Brigade, Melissa Snow, Henry H. Lind NCO Academy, and Hector Valadez, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, were inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club Jan. 6 on JBLM.
"They possess the qualities that we desire in the Army," JBLM Command Sgt. Major Matthew Barnes said of the group's latest members.
The Armywide club was founded in 1986 to honor NCOs whose particular leadership achievements and care for Soldiers stand out from the rest. Named after Murphy, the most decorated U.S. Soldier of World War II, the club goes out of its way to serve both the military and civilian communities.
"To have the opportunity to give back in this way is the biggest perk," JBLM club Vice President Staff Sgt. Michelle Sarabia said.
Membership is exclusive and the selection process is rigorous. Prospective members must first be nominated, then pass a practical test before appearing before the selection board. They also have to show an interest in the club itself and participate in its routine service projects -- and the more they do, the better.
Last year the JBLM branch didn't select a single new member from those who participated in its quarterly boards. In fact, less than 1 percent of Army sergeants will ever be inducted into the club, according to the induction ceremony's keynote speaker, 1st Sgt. Kevin Staddie.
This time all four Soldiers who were nominated made it, though not all on the first try. This was Valadez's second attempt at the board. For him, the act of perseverance would have made Murphy proud.
"(Murphy's) a leader, a Soldier that never gave up," Valadez said.
Initially Murphy was rejected from the paratroopers for being too small. He later went on to earn 33 medals -- every medal of valor the U.S. offers at least once, plus more from other allied forces.
"I felt that it was something that I wanted, and if I want it I've got to keep going until I get it," Valadez said.
It's that type of determination that the board looks for -- but there are other important qualities at play.
For Hawkins, the opportunity to set an example was a big factor.
"(I want) to show younger Soldiers what right looks like," he said.
Hadley, his nominator, thinks he's already doing a pretty great job. On a deployment to Iraq, Hawkins played a pivotal part in completing a resupply mission in one movement in spite of limited vehicles. He greatly reduced exposure to the unit, but such acts aren't that uncommon for Hawkins.
"He's more about everybody else than he is about himself," Hardy said.
Hadley was largely drawn by the opportunity to give back to the community. He grew up poor, and knows the importance of helping out.
"With what little I have, I want to share," he said.
But for Snow, it was all these things.
As an instructor at the Henry H. Lind NCO Academy, she can seem pretty tough. Students often complain that she grades too hard, that she's too bent on having everything exactly right, Sarabia, her nominator, said. Often those same students come to thank her on graduation day.
"It's about being part of something more than myself," Snow said. "More than the Army, too."
For Barnes, these are qualities he wishes he could breed into every Soldier. All were physically fit, excellent at their jobs, and most importantly, beyond reproach when it comes to taking care of Soldiers.
Looking around the room at the ceremony, Barnes noted how many senior leaders present wore the club's blue and gold medallion. For him, it's a first-hand example of how valuable their contributions are to the installation and the Army.
"It gives Soldiers something to shoot for," he said.
Marisa Petrich: firstname.lastname@example.org