By Patrick BuffettSeptember 26, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (Sept. 26, 2013) -- "It's not about emotion or boasting rights," said Command Sgt. Maj. Spencer Gray, Quartermaster Corps Regimental CSM. "Your presence here today signifies the continuation of a legacy of leadership and strong moral character that members of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club strive to uphold."
Gray was speaking to the honorees and audience of a SAMC induction ceremony Friday in Ball Auditorium on the Ordnance Campus. Four noncommissioned officers were being welcomed into the club's Fort Lee chapter. Each received the distinctive SAMC medallion along with other mementoes from community support agencies like the Association of the U.S. Army, the USO and the Fort Lee Federal Credit Union.
"Today, you should be asking yourself why … why am I here accepting the legacy of Sgt. Audie Murphy?" Gray also said in his remarks. "I hope the reason is that you're inspired by his contributions and the leadership qualities he demonstrated. You are a descendent of his leadership and, in this moment, you are saying you are ready to uphold and safeguard that lineage."
Following Gray's comments, each honoree and their accompanying family members were called to the front of the room for the official induction. Three of the individuals -- Staff Sgt. Richard B. Sheetz, a 31-Bravo military policeman; Staff Sgt. Howard R. Parker, a 92-Golf food service specialist; and Staff Sgt. Maurice J. Gillard, a 27-Delta paralegal specialist -- are currently serving as Army recruiters. Sgt. 1st Class Peta-gail Rodney, the fourth inductee, is a Paralegal Specialist Course instructor with Juliett Company, 244th QM Battalion.
To qualify for SAMC membership, each of the noncommissioned officers had to be recommended by a senior member of his or her enlisted chain of command. After that, nominees have to pass a series of board evaluations that assess their military knowledge and level of professionalism.
"It requires a lot of hard work and late hours," said Sheetz, who is also working on his college degree in addition to the haphazard hours of his military duties. He recalled many nights when he studied until 1 a.m. and was out of bed at 5 a.m. to start his duty day. "If you want it bad enough, you just do it. That's the sort of commitment that sets you apart from your peers, which is really what the (SAMC) is all about."
Referring to the induction as the "biggest achievement of his career to date," Sheetz said he is determined to show others the path that he has walked. "I think that's an important element of leadership; showing that if I can do it, you can do it. We owe it to our Soldiers to lead by example."
Rodney shared similar sentiments. She set her sights on SAMC membership many years ago when she was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y.
"I saw what the NCOs were doing and how they were helping out in the community, and I always wanted to be a part of it," she said. "It took some time to get here, and I can tell you it's really an awesome feeling to be wearing this medallion."
The Jamaican-born sergeant and mother of two offered the following advice to her fellow 27-Deltas -- particularly those in the lower enlisted ranks.
"Work hard," she said. "You have to set yourself apart from the battle buddies to your left and right. Remember the Army is downsizing, so it's likely that they're going to (reduce) from the bottom and (retain) from the top. If you're not that Soldier who is setting the standard or doing something that's outstanding from the rest, then you're probably not going to be recognized and won't be able to make the Army a long-term career."
Anyone who would like to learn more about the Fort Lee chapter of the SAMC is encouraged to visit the organization's website at www.lee.army.mil/audie.murphy/audie.murphy.club. The site includes upcoming board dates, key phone numbers and a biography of Murphy, one of the most decorated U.S. Soldiers of World War II.