By Justin Graff, ASC Public AffairsMay 18, 2015
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Two U.S. Army Sustainment Command Soldiers were inducted into one of the Army's most prestigious organizations.
Staff Sgt. Kevin Hopson, provost sergeant, and Staff Sgt. Brandi Manuel, watercraft non-commissioned officer in charge, both of ASC, were inducted into the Rock Island Arsenal Sgt. Audie Murphy Club during a ceremony in Heritage Hall, May 13.
The SAMC, first established at Fort Hood, Texas, in 1986, is an elite U.S. Army organization for enlisted non-commissioned officers whose leadership, achievements and performance reflect the highest standards of Army values.
The RIA SAMC was established in 2012 and has logged more than 500 combined volunteer hours. The club speaks at local schools and hosts or attends community events designed to improve the quality of life for the installation and the Quad Cities area.
"I'm so excited to work with the other SAMC members and go out to help the community," said Manuel, a native of Grand Island, Nebraska.
"I hope to get a lot of experience from the other NCOs who've been in the community longer. They're the elite, so obviously I hope to learn as much as I can from them," she said. "It feels pretty good."
Manuel entered the Army in 2003 as a watercraft operator and has been deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She says good leadership early in her career helped her achieve membership in the SAMC.
"When I was a young specialist, I was the only female on the boat, so I caught a lot of flak," she said. "My boatswain at that time was very encouraging. He told me to never give up, to always work hard and I'll succeed. That's the kind of leadership I want to pass along."
She hopes to achieve a master's degree in criminal justice and eventually retire from the Army as a command sergeant major.
Hospon, of North Powder, Oregon, entered the Army in 2005, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. He was selected as the 2014 ASC and U.S. Army Materiel Command NCO of the Year and also competed at the Department of the Army level Best Warrior Competition.
Hopson said he felt relief after finally being inducted into the SAMC.
"This has been a goal of mine since 2010," he said. "I completed the first round of boards, then deployed. Between deployment, starting a family, the Best Warrior Competition and my responsibilities here at ASC, it took me five years to get here. But, it's good."
The SAMC's contributions to the communities surrounding Army installations attracted him to organization.
"There are two basic things that made me want to be a part of SAMC," he said. "First of all, this is a group of NCOs that hold themselves to the highest standards. I want to be a part of that.
"The second, and most important part is, we (Soldiers) get so much support from communities across the country. SAMC does a lot to give back to those communities. I've always been so appreciative, and this is the best way to give back."
Hopson is planning to transition his career toward aviation.
"I want to fly a helicopter," he said. "But my main goal is to serve the Army for at least 20 years. I don't get caught up in what rank I can achieve or what medals I can get. I just want to serve this Army and help everyone as much as I can. That's truly what I want."
Asked how the SAMC can help him succeed throughout his career, he said: "Anytime you're around a great group of leaders that continually try to improve themselves, it kind of rubs off on you. That motivates me."
Per Army regulation (FORSCOM Reg. 600-8, paragraph 1), SAMC members must "exemplify leadership characterized by personal concern for the needs, training, development and welfare of Soldiers and concern for families of Soldiers."