By Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Eugene, 80th Training Command (TASS) Public AffairsJuly 14, 2015
MUSTANG, Okla. - A staff sergeant and a specialist assigned to subordinate units within the 800th Logistics Support Brigade got a rare opportunity to brief the 80th Training Command's command team as well as leaders from across the brigade during the Yearly Training Brief in Mustang, Oklahoma, June 27, 2015.
Both Reserve Soldiers explained the benefits of Soldier participation in the 80th's Best Warrior Competition and the quarterly Sergeant Audie Murphy Club induction boards. The expectation is that the leaders in attendance would in turn promote involvement of both events within their ranks.
"It's food for thought to inspire and encourage ... Soldiers to participate," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Darlington, the 80th's command sergeant major. "The way to get the message out is to ... have the actual participant do the speaking."
The BWC is a physically and mentally demanding annual contest designed to identify the best competitors from among the approximately 7,000 Soldiers within the 80th TC.
Competition events include physical fitness, weapons handling, marksmanship, drill and ceremony, land navigation and first aid. Competitors also take a written exam and report before a panel of sergeants major in full dress uniform to answer questions ranging from military knowledge to current events.
The sergeant Audie Murphy Club, named after the United States Military's most decorated veteran, is a private U.S. Army organization for enlisted noncommissioned officers, which began at Fort Hood Texas in 1986. Leaders recommend candidates for induction based on their leadership abilities and for showing genuine concern for Soldiers and the Soldiers' families. The competitors then appear before a panel of senior NCOs for a painstaking verbal examination.
Staff Sgt. William Fleming is a recent Sergeant Audie Murphy Club inductee, and he competed in the 80th TC's 2015 Best Warrior Competition. Spc. Charles Reding was the 80th TC 2015 BWC runner-up in the lower enlisted category.
Both Fleming and Reding emphasized to the audience the difficulty involved with preparing for the two events while juggling civilian jobs, unit responsibilities and family life.
The audience applauded when Fleming told them that none of his accomplishments would've been possible without the support of his wife Cassie who was in attendance during the presentation. Fleming said, he printed out the nearly 400-page Army study guide and Cassie helped him prepare for the BWC and SAMC boards.
"I don't know if you've ever seen this thing printed out," said Fleming, a Utilities Equipment Repairer assigned to C Company 399th Logistics Support Battalion. "It's about the size of a couch cushion."
He said, she played the role of a board member and quizzed him from the study guide. She also penalized him for wrong answers.
"At the end of each session we'd tally up the wrong answers and the boss would make me do pushups," he said, referring to his wife.
Reding told the audience that his unit selected him for the BWC because of his consistently high physical fitness scores.
"I encourage Soldiers to compete because it presents new challenges and new opportunities," said Redding, a motor transport operator assigned to the 3/379th Logistics Support Battalion. "Even if they're not physically fit, they can always work to improve their scores, if they shine in other areas."
Though he embraced the challenge of competing, Reding said the board appearance was his first, and the experience intimidated him.
"I was nervous walking before eight sergeants major, I'm used to seeing just one at my unit," he said. "If you want to send someone to the Best Warrior Competition then do a practice board, it doesn't take long and you learn key things like how to enter and report."
Fleming said, the key to success in both events is preparation.
"The time that goes into putting your packet together, studying ... making sure that your dress uniform is put together properly, and your physical training all needs to be at competition level," he said.