By Clemens GainesJanuary 26, 2018
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Three APG noncommissioned officers were inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club in a special Dec. 15 ceremony in Myer Auditorium.
Sgt. 1st Class Gary R. Killiebrew Sr., and Staff Sgts. Justin D. Johnson and Hector J. Vega appeared before a board of senior noncommissioned officers to be selected into the Aberdeen Edgewood Area Chapter. Killiebrew is a resource manager with the Army Evaluation Center. Johnson and Vega are Soldier Operator Maintainer Tester Evaluators for the Army Test and Evaluation Command. Vega is also a training NCO and unit prevention leader.
"It is a personal achievement for me that would not have been possible without the mentorship or support of my platoon and the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club members," said Vega. "It means that I have joined the ranks of outstanding individuals focused on improving not only themselves but the community, both Army and civilian. I am striving to reach higher and helping others reach higher as well."
Johnson emphasized that "I want to be the example for other Soldiers to follow and show that you can do things you never thought you could if you try hard enough."
"Being a part of this club is a significant achievement for me," said Killiebrew, "because it signifies what I've set out to be in my military career, being one of the most elite leaders during my service to this country. Taking care of Soldiers and their families, and giving my all when doing so, is what being a part of this club means to me."
The ceremony opening included a presentation of "I Am the Sergeant," an audio and video presentation of noncommissioned officers serving in every conflict in American history. As a video highlighted each conflict, APG Soldiers came on stage dressed in the uniforms of each conflict from the Revolutionary War through the Global War on Terror.
Then a video presentation highlighted the life and accomplishments of Audie Leon Murphy, a Medal of Honor recipient, who was the most decorated Soldier in World War II, and the inspiration for clubs throughout the Army.
The keynote speaker was Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Graham from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) Command. "Over the last 10 years, I have seen this prestigious club take a back seat to the War on Terrorism and other competing requirements our nation and commanders have asked us noncommissioned officers to do. But here at APG and many other installations across the Army, the Sergeant Audie Murphy Clubs are gaining momentum and popularity once again."
According to Master Sgt. Brian Mincey, club president, senior NCOs recommend Soldiers for the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club. Those Soldiers meet two selection boards that review the biography, official photo, enlisted records brief and their leader's book. The selection process included a records review and evaluations of each Soldier in both their military occupational specialty and demonstrated leadership. Board selection must be unanimous.
"Selection is a reward for noncommissioned officers whose leadership achievements and performance merit special consideration," noted Mincey. "The SAMA is a means of recognizing those NCOs who have contributed significantly to the development of a professional NCO Corps and a combat ready Army. Members exemplify leadership characterized by personal concern for the needs, training, development, and welfare of Soldiers and concern for families of Soldiers."
Each Soldier received the Army Commendation Medal, a Sergeant Audie Murphy medallion and gifts including a two year membership in the Association of the U.S. Army.
Unlike many other military awards programs, there were key moments of audience participation. Before each inductee came on stage, their Soldiers and Sponsors spoke up and said "My Sergeant Audie Murphy member is (name)" and they recited key leadership reasons for the nomination. Then at the end of the ceremony, the inductees and all NCOs past and present recited in unison, and without notes, the 290-word NCO Creed (https://www.army.mil/values/nco.html)
Including Graham, three other 20th CBRNE Soldiers supported the event: 2Lt Shavon Baker who gave a powerful a cappella rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, Sgt. 1st Class Sharlene Lynch provided an invocation, and Spc. Evan Warnke served as the narrator.