By Mr. Stephen Standifird (Leonard Wood)February 11, 2016
These noncommissioned officers are not movie stars like the namesake of the elite club they belong to, but they must shine brightly to become members.
The criterion for joining the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club is earning the Sgt. Audie Murphy Award.
The award recognizes recipients for contributions to the NCO Corps by means of leadership, training and the welfare of Soldiers and their Families.
The club's foundation is building future Army NCOs, while providing service to the installation and communities.
"No matter what job I am in, I'm looking for some way to teach, coach and mentor somebody. This was another way for me to try to mentor sergeants," said Thomas Folden, president of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, Fort Leonard Wood Chapter. "This is who I saw as an elite group of people I needed to be around, when I was a young sergeant."
"The Sgt. Audie Murphy Club is a private organization comprised of elite NCOs who have been identified by the U.S. Army and their chain of command as having reached such a level of competency and tactical knowledge that they are recognized at the TRADOC (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command) level," said Paul Ramos, previous president of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, Fort Leonard Wood Chapter.
The mission of the Fort Leonard Wood Chapter is to partner with local organizations and work to improve the community while demonstrating to seniors, peers and subordinates alike what outstanding leadership can accomplish, Folden said.
That mission drives the club to work all year to raise funds for two projects during the holiday season.
"Here, on Fort Leonard Wood, our main focus is around Thanksgiving and Christmas time," Ramos said. "Every year, we do a Thanksgiving food drive, where we try to feed several hundred Families that otherwise might not be able to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal."
At Christmas, the club participates in Operation Angel Tree.
"Brigade sergeants' major selected one Family from each major unit that otherwise might not be able to provide a Christmas for their children, and then we buy the gifts, give them a full meal and present them with the gifts," Ramos said.
Just receiving the award is not the only criteria to being a member of the club, as evident by the dwindling numbers at Fort Leonard Wood, Folden said.
"A lot of Soldiers have received the award, but being an active member is actually participating in the club and going out and doing those outreach programs and helping the community," he said.
Folden and Ramos contribute the lack of numbers participating in the club to the mission that happens on Fort Leonard Wood. The drill sergeants and instructors have tight schedules that make it hard for them to participate, Folden said.
"However, we are a volunteer organization," Ramos said. "We take anybody who is willing to help volunteer and contribute. We encourage anyone to come out -- junior enlisted, retirees, with or without having earned the award."
Folden encourages anyone wanting to help out, or to just see what the club is about, to show up for a meeting at 11:45 a.m. on the first or third Tuesday of the month, in Building 842, 51 Young Street.
They can also be reached by email at email@example.com or through their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Sergeant-Audie-Murphy-Club-Ozark-Region-375669415807663.