By Staff Sgt. Mark Albright, Combined Task Force Dragoon Public AffairsOctober 15, 2013
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan- Four Combined Task Force Dragoon Troopers joined an elite group of noncommissioned officers when International Security Assistance Force, Regional Command- South, held a Sergeant Audie Murphy Club board Oct. 11, 2013, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
The Dragoons selected were Sgt. 1st Class Felix Briones and Staff Sgt. Jonathan Campbell, both from Engineer Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, and 1st Squadron Soldiers, Staff Sgt. James Guild and Staff Sgt. Paul Gaeth.
The Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is a private U.S. Army organization for noncommissioned officers whose leadership achievements and performance merit special recognition. Soldiers have to endure multiple boards, late nights studying and the pressure of performing well at the board.
"The most important thing is that we identify those exemplary NCOs to become part of the club. We have the duty to identify those NCOs that can do bigger and better things for the Army," said 1st Sgt. Delfin J. Romani, Engineer Troop's senior noncommissioned officer and SAMC member. "It's a lot of responsibility."
The club is named for Audie Leon Murphy who was born in north Texas in 1925. He rose to national fame during World War II after receiving every Army medal for valor, including the Medal of Honor. Murphy was credited for killing more than 240 enemy soldiers.
"It's a big opportunity and I have always wanted to do it," said Briones, from Bronx, N.Y. and an Engineer Troop platoon sergeant. "We studied together in our rooms or in the office with each other or with the first sergeant, basically, just when and where we could."
Preparation is a key aspect in any board and Romani assisted Briones and his Soldiers by providing training and studying opportunities. Time is a commodity while deployed and he made an effort to allow his Soldiers study time.
"The Sergeant Audie Murphy Club board is one of the most prestigious things you can do for yourself and your career while you are deployed to Afghanistan," said Romani, of his Soldier's efforts. "I gave (the Soldiers) an initial push and they ran with it and I just provided assistance where needed."
The SAMC was started in 1986 at Fort Hood, Texas, as a local club and expanded to the rest of the Army by the end of 1994. If the Soldiers meet the requirements, they must then be personally recommended by the noncommissioned officers in their chain-of-command.
"This is a collection of the best NCOs the Army has to offer," said Guild, chaplain's assistant for 1st Squadron and new SAMC member. "I have wanted to do this since I came into the Army. It is a lot to live up to."
The board is an accomplishment many Soldiers hold in high regard. Becoming a member is a proud moment in their career and going to the board comes with mixed feelings.
"I was a little nervous and anxious," said Campbell, an Engineer Troop Soldier who earned his way into the club. "You work so hard and it all builds up to this one moment in the board. I am very happy to be selected. I feel extremely proud of this accomplishment."