ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Three of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command's, or ATEC, exceptional noncommissioned officers, or NCOs, were inducted into the U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground's, or APG, Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, or SAMC, during the induction ceremony Dec. 15.

The new inductees were: Sgt. 1st Class Gary R. Killiebrew Sr., the U.S. Army Joint Test Element, or JTE; Staff Sgt. Justin D. Johnson, ATEC; and Staff Sgt. Hector J. Vega, ATEC.

The SAMC is a U.S. Army organization, originated in 1986 for NCOs only, designed to develop, inspire and motivate the best leaders in the U.S. Army. The award is named after Audie L. Murphy, who was a Medal of Honor recipient who fought in World War II and is the highest decorated Soldier in American history.

For an NCO to pursue the club, the Soldier must exemplify leadership characterized by personal concern for the needs, training, development, and welfare of Soldiers and concern for families of Soldiers. If an NCO meets those pre-requisites, then the Soldier may be recommended by his non-commissioned officer chain-of-command to participate in the rigorous board examination process. Those NCOs whose leadership achievements and performance merit special recognition may possibly earn the reward of SAMC membership.

During the induction ceremony, each inductee received the SAMC Certificate of Achievement, an SAMC membership card, a visa gift card, NCO sword, framed artwork, and a one year Association of the United States Army membership.

Killiebrew joined the Army on Nov. 17, 2000 and is assigned to the JTE as the Resource Manager Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge, or NCOIC. He was selected for the SAMC due to his devotion to the NCO Corps, superb leadership, and selfless service to his Soldiers and their families.

"I have always been inspired to become a member of the SAMC because I consider them to be an elite group of leaders," Killiebrew said. "They are the best of the best and I want to be amongst the best."

Killiebrew is mostly looking forward to the commitment from every individual to continue giving back to the community and the veterans.

During his induction, Killiebrew received the U.S. Army Materiel Command SAMC medallion.

Johnson joined the Army in February 2009 and currently serves as ATEC's Headquarters and Headquarters Company Operations NCOIC. He was selected to the SAMC because of his competence and confidence he demonstrated during the selection phase boards.

"I plan to contribute to the club by continuing to volunteer in the community and inspiring my peers and subordinates to be the best professionals they can be," Johnson said.

Johnson's inspiration to pursue the SAMC was his wife, "who always pushes me to be a better me than I think I can." "I wanted to be inducted to become a role model for fellow Soldiers and show them they can do more than they feel they are capable of."

Johnson received the U.S. Army Forces Command SAMC medallion.

Vega enlisted in the Army on Feb. 2, 2011 and has been with the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center for two years, serving as the Soldier, Operator, Maintainer, Tester and Evaluator.

Vega believes the three Soldiers inducted were originally selected because of their leadership skills and abilities. "The hallmark of leadership in the Army is being able to make a decision under pressure and convincing enough people to go along with your decision. Even though I don't have that much time in the Army as the other candidates did, I made sure to apply myself to my profession and demonstrated my knowledge during the whole selection process."

"Aside from being able to wear that awesome medallion to formal events, it would be getting to know and mentoring the new Sergeant Audie Murphy Club candidates," said Vega, when asked what he is looking forward to the most. "APG has a small club and we are looking to bolster our numbers with quality candidates."

Vega received the U.S. Army Forces Command SAMC medallion.

Following the ceremony, the three new SAMC inductees participated in a candle lighting ceremony, which symbolized a new light leading the way for others to follow. The candle lighting ceremony represents the burning desire to continue to lead from the front.