FORT DEVENS, Mass. - Not succeeding at your goal can sometimes be the motivation to push yourself harder and try again. Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Aparicio said this was his mindset in achieving his goal when he was inducted into the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club here on April 6, 2017.
The SAMC is a private U.S. Army organization for non-commissioned officers only. NCOs whose leadership achievements and performance merit special recognition have the potential to earn the reward of membership. The club is dedicated to the preservation, memory, honor, and history of the late Murphy, America's most decorated combat Soldier of World War II. Murphy earned and received every decoration for valor that the United States had to offer plus five decorations presented to him by France and Belgium.
Born in Mexico, Aparicio and his family moved to Dallas, Texas, when he was five years old. He began his Army career in 2002 in the Reserve component. In 2008, he joined the Active Guard Reserve and, in 2014, was assigned to the Regional Training Site Maintenance here. The RTSM-Devens falls under the 94th Training Division, one of three major divisions within the 80th Training Command. He currently serves as an instructor/writer for the RTSM-Devens. His job keeps him busy teaching the reclassification and Advanced Leader Courses for Light Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic, Unit Armorer course, and the Additional Skill Identifier H8 Wheeled Vehicle Recovery Course.
In 2015, Aparicio applied but did not make the final cut to be inducted into the SAMC. However, that did not deter him in the least. In fact, he said that it made him want it even more. For the past two years, he has dedicated nearly all of his personal time in preparing for this year's induction. Aparicio won the 2016 80th Training Command Best Warrior Competition and then competed at the United States Army Reserve Command level. He believes this helped show the board members his commitment for induction into the SAMC.
"After my first board, I started increasing my volunteer hours, physical fitness, and overall Army knowledge," he said. "Even though this was an individual achievement, I couldn't have done it without the help of the staff at RTSM-Devens. The staff assisted by providing me the time to prepare and doing mock boards for me. I am surrounded by great NCOs who motivated me to better myself. Sgt. Maj. Stephen Haynes played a vital role in this. He is an NCO who leads by example and has pushed us all to strive for excellence."
Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Darlington, the senior enlisted leader of the 80th TC, presented the SAMC Medal, along with the Army Commendation Medal, to Aparicio at the induction ceremony. Darlington pointed out to the attendees that Aparicio didn't meet the standard, but instead, he far exceeded the standard. "Sgt. 1st Class Aparicio raised the bar for other Soldiers to look up to and emulate," he said. "He is the epitome of an outstanding Soldier, and I could not be any prouder of him."
Reflecting on what the induction means to him, Aparicio said that, although it was no easy journey, it shows that hard work and dedication pay off. "It is an honor to be in a club with so many great NCOs," he said. "It is something that I can carry for the rest of my career. It's a tradition and a legacy that I can instill through the NCOs and Soldiers we instruct at our school house."
Support came from not only his fellow Soldiers but from as far away as Texas, where his family lives. "Unfortunately, they could not make it to the induction ceremony here, but my family is very proud of me," he said. "I've already had a few Soldiers come to me for questions and guidance on the induction process. I am currently assisting two Soldiers to prepare for the SAMC board."
Even though the arduous application process takes a lot of time, Aparicio encourages all NCOs wanting to apply to not give up and stay positive. "I used my first attempt at the SAMC as motivation to come back and prove that I belong in the association," he said.