The Army inducted three members into the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, an elite military organization, Jan. 25 at Brucker Hall on the Fort Myer portion of the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

Sgts. 1st Class William Parks, Kevin Simpson, and Henry Wilson were recipients of the prestigious leadership award. The Brucker Hall auditorium was filled with members of the military community as well as the recipient's Family members and friends.

The United States Army Band, "Pershing's Own' played the national anthem for the ceremony, Master Sgt. Rafael Lopez was the speaker for the invocation and command sergeant major of the Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region/Military District of Washington Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Biggs introduced guest speaker Sgt. Maj. Edward A. Bell, the sergeant major of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff G-4.

"I want to congratulate our three recipients," said Bell. "You all are outstanding noncommissioned officers and have to be stellar performers in order to be inducted into the prestigious Sgt. Audie Murphy Club. You now have the affiliation and connection to our nation's most decorated Soldier of World War II--Sgt. Audie Murphy."

The Sgt. Audie Murphy Club award is given to enlisted noncommissioned officers. Those who are awarded the medallion, are inducted into an elite club of leaders who want to serve their communities and carry on the legacy of Sgt. Audie Murphy.

Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Simpson, a clarinetist in The United States Army Band, 'Pershing's Own,' said "it felt great to get the award."

"It's been a long process," he said. "The process of applying for the award itself is about four months long, and then there's many months before that preparing for the process itself, so it's been quite a journey. I had a lot of preparation."

Simpson said being a part of the organization will give him opportunities to serve in a new way.

"I am musician by trade for the military, so most of my career is spent in the music world," he said. "So anytime I can go outside of that zone, it's always great. It's great development for me and it's great for development for people around me. It's finding new things to challenge myself and how that makes me a better leader."

Sgt. 1st Class Candice Funchess, president of the Military District of Washington Audie Murphy Club, said she was "overwhelmingly blessed" to participate in ceremony.

"To watch them go through the process and then to see them awarded for it because it's not an easy process and not everyone who (begins), sees it through, not everyone gets selected," said Funchess, who's also a part of the elite club and has participated in two induction ceremonies since becoming president. "To see them finally getting their medallions, their certificates of achievement and (with Families present), I'm just happy for them."

Funchess added that the purpose of the club is to act as a servant leadership organization. She said the club has a prescheduled service events for club members throughout the year.

"We volunteer every single month," said Funchess. "Part of the process is them already showing that they're going to do these things once they're awarded, so they can't through the process without showing that they're going to volunteer and be good steward of their communities."

Funchess said, in December 2017, club members assisted with laying wreaths on graves for Wreaths Across America. In January, they went back to take up those wreaths.

"Because we are the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club for this area, we are get the area where Sgt. Audie Murphy is buried in," said Funchess.

In February, Funchess said, club members will volunteer Special Olympics bowling event in Hyattsville, Maryland.

"We put out a long-range calendar, full of events for the year," Funchess explained.

She also said the organization also provides professional development for club members. She said Biggs is "really big on mentorship and leadership."

"We try to continue to develop ourselves and the new awardees by giving them the opportunity to sit and speak with him, so it can help us to continue to grow as leaders--hopefully into the strong leader he is," said Funchess. "You gotta have someone to emulate, so he is that person for us."

Pentagram Staff Writer Delonte Harrod can be reached at dharrod@dcmilitary.com.