By Christina SteinerDecember 6, 2018
FORT SILL, Okla., Dec. 6, 2018 -- Two Army drill sergeants took the title of the Fort Sill and Fires Center of Excellence's Sergeant Audie Murphy Club (SAMC) during its quarterly induction ceremony Nov. 27 inside Kerwin Auditorium at Snow Hall.
A third Soldier also earned an induction, but he had PCSed to Germany and was unavailable for the ceremony.
Staff Sgts. Gilbert Mayer and Danny Gardner of 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery; and 1st Battalion, 79th Field Artillery, respectively, received recognition from two command sergeants major and one first sergeant who knew them personally and had been in their chain of command during their nomination and induction.
According to the narrator's introductions, SAMC inductee members undergo several vigorous boards at their commands that include their battalions, brigades, and finally, the Fort Sill installation.
They test on such topics as: leadership, training, physical fitness, and world events. They undergo nominative packet screening by their battalion and brigade command sergeants major, take an Army physical fitness test, display knowledge of small arms equipment, and Army leader development, and appear before several boards with a final review by the post command sergeant major.
Winners receive a SAMC medallion, certificate of achievement, and Army Commendation Medal.
As part of the induction ceremony, staff of the brigades showcased video depicting highlights of both Soldiers during their Army time at Fort Sill.
Upon induction into the SAMC at Fort Sill, inductees are expected to maintain their normal Army duties and also volunteer in the greater Lawton-Fort Sill community, to include helping children, homeless veterans, and families in need.
Gardner has served just over 10 years in the Army. His experience includes: rifleman; grenadier; team, squad, section, and platoon sergeants; drill sergeant, and a deployment to Afghanistan. Mayer has served just over eight years in the Army. His experience includes: rifleman; grenadier; team and squad leader; platoon sergeant; and drill sergeant. He also deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Both Soldiers are pursuing college degrees.
Guest speakers included senior NCOs who personally worked with and supervised the two Soldiers and knew of their background. They included: Command Sgt. Maj. John Foley, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill command sergeant major and himself a SAMC recipient; Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Slater, 1-19th FA; and 1st Sgt. Guy Dormeus, first sergeant of 1-79th FA.
"I want to thank Sgt. 1st Class (Matthew) Gorman (SAMC president) and the entire SAMC for not only preparing for the ceremony and the board that came along with this back in September, but also for all the other contributions you provide for the installation, things like the drive you did at the commissary and all the other events you did around the city," Foley said.
"This elite organization exists to recognize the best NCOs the Army offers," he continued. "Leading, training, and taking care of Soldiers and families are the noncommissioned officers that we are and are supposed to (be). Some of us do this remarkably well and better than others. That's why you're inducted into the club. We must continue to protect the integrity of this club, which represents about 2 percent of the Army. Becoming a member is the easy part, but doing this as a career and a lifetime is much harder and demanding.
"I was inducted into the (SAMC) about 25-and-a-half years ago. That's the easy part. The hard part is giving back to the organization, being the role model for a career and doing what's right for people giving back. Making mistakes is a good thing because that means you're not afraid to take on challenges," said Foley.
Sgt. Malik Carigan, chaplain assistant, gave the invocation. The 77th Army Band then played the national anthem.
Following the event, both Soldiers received accolades by comrades, family, and friends. They also shared their thoughts about the event.
"It's a rewarding process and it's something you want to strive for and achieve; it's a stepping stone as you progress," Mayer said. "I prepared for probably four or five months.
"You lead from the front to be the example for your Soldiers to follow," Gardner said. "Studying for the entire thing, getting that knowledge down, being able to know exactly the regulations and what everything means.
The SAMC seeks to emulate and keep alive the memory of the leadership and courage of Audie Murphy, a Soldier who entered World War II as a private, but ended the war as a captain and the most highly decorated Soldier in history.
Murphy's awards begin with the Medal of Honor -- the highest award for courage that our country can award.
Fort Sill Soldiers have been members of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club since it was first conceived in 1986; however, at its inception, only members of the III Corps Artillery of Fort Hood, Texas, were considered for membership. The club was started by III Corps, so it initially was open to just III Corps members. Today, all Soldiers at Fort Sill are authorized for membership in this elite group of men and women.
Roughly 100 command sergeants major, fellow SAMC members, families and friends attended the quarterly event. The SAMC chapter on post volunteers at Fort Sill and in the community assisting with food and toy drives and other community service events.