By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 31, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 31, 2014) -- Many people affiliated with the Army know about the heroic tales of Audie Murphy, but for some, stories of the former Soldier's heroism are a way of life.
The Fort Rucker Sergeant Audie Murphy Club inducted six of its newest members during a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation Museum July 28.
The new inductees were: Sgt. 1st Class Johnathan Squires, C Company, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment; Sgt. 1st Class Lawanda Sullivan, A Co., 1st Bn., 13th Avn. Regt.; Staff Sgt. Aaron Perry, C Co., 1st Bn., 13th Avn. Regt.; Staff Sgt. James O'Donoghue, A Co., 169th Engineer Battalion; Staff Sgt. Michael Neuhauslares, C Co., 1st Bn., 13th Avn. Regt.; and Staff Sgt. Nicholas Hirth, C Co., 1st Bn., 13th Avn. Regt.
Squires said to finally be inducted into the club was a great accomplishment.
"For me, personally, this is a great feeling," he said. "This took me nine months -- I didn't make it through the first time around -- but it's a long process and it's overwhelming when you finally get here."
For Squires, being inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is about more than earning a medal or adding another achievement on his evaluation report -- it's about service.
"Being in the Audie Murphy Club, what it means to me in today's age is Soldiers taking care of Soldiers," he said. "That's what Audie Murphy was known for, that's what he received his Medal of Honor for -- going back into the fight and taking care of his Soldiers -- so, a lot of what we do here on this post and all the installations across the Army is take care of the Soldiers, their Families and the community. For me, it's about giving back."
Command Sgt. Maj. Eric C. Thom, Aviation Branch command sergeant major, along with Maj. Gen. Michael D. Lundy, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, presided over the ceremony to welcome the new inductees into the prestigious club.
"This is a very important milestone for these individuals' career path," said Thom during the ceremony. "It takes a lot to get to where these individuals are right now. This isn't like a promotion where you're judged by your potential or what you can do later on.
"To even start this process, your unit has to identify you as a proven, demonstrated leader who is able to take care of Soldiers, take care of training and take care of Family members," he continued. "And that's just to get the nomination started."
After the nominations, Soldiers endured two very stringent boards -- one at the brigade level and one at the installation level.
During these boards, Soldiers are asked questions relating to Audie Murphy's biography, as well as situational questions that place them in various scenarios.
Squires said getting through the boards was the toughest part of the process.
"You never know when going into these boards what they're going to ask," he said. "They asked a lot of scenario-based questions and questions that draw information from you, and each question builds on itself, so if you really haven't been able to have the experience with it, then you may not know the answers. You can get pretty overwhelmed with the boards."
The six Soldiers who were inducted were part of two quarters worth of Soldiers who went through the boards, said Thom.
"Roughly 50 percent of those who made it through the brigade-level boards didn't make it through the installation level," he said. "The first thing they had to do was recite the Audie Murphy bio verbatim. If they can't, it stops, it's done, they move out, so these individuals have done a great accomplishment just to get to this point."
Squires said that his long-term goal with this induction, as well as his mission throughout the Army, is to create awareness for military service members.
"I just want to accomplish awareness for who and what we are as a military," he said. "The military is not always shown in the brightest light, so I want to show that we're out there to give back to the community and to the Families."