By Mitch Meador, Fort Sill TribuneMarch 21, 2019
FORT SILL, Okla. (March 21, 2019) -- Three Fort Sill drill sergeants joined the elite ranks of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club (SAMC) at a quarterly induction ceremony held March 12, in Sheridan Theater.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Cook and Staff Sgt. Miriam Reyes are both drill sergeants assigned to 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery, while Sgt. 1st Class Francisco Soto is a senior drill sergeant for 1st Battalion, 31st Field Artillery.
As guest speaker for the occasion, Fort Sill Chief of Staff Col. David Stewart began by saying, "If you think being a Soldier is hard, try loving one. So right now let's take an opportunity for those who are here or not here, a round of applause for those family members and friends who motivated, guided, and helped."
That task completed, Stewart shared an object lesson that Soldiers might be able to lean on down the road.
"By show of hands, who has heard of Michael Jordan?"
Well, who has not heard of Michael Jordan?
"Now who here has heard of Stacy King?" Pause. "A few but not many. You might appreciate this story.
"Back in 1990, Michael Jordan scored a career-best 69 points for the Chicago Bulls' 117-113 overtime win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. A win that propelled the Bulls into the playoffs and then the first of their six championships."
After the game, all the reporters but one surrounded Jordan. The exception was a sportscaster who saw Stacy King sitting alone and walked over to him. These were the interviewer's words as he stuck his microphone in King's face:"Stacy, on this momentous night, when Michael scored a career best -- 69 points -- you came off the bench and you scored one point. How does that make you feel?"
"That's pretty cold," Stewart admitted, "but Stacy with a big grin looked up and said, 'I'll always remember this night as the night that Michael and I combined for 70 points.'"
King was on three of those six championship teams, and he went on to be a successful broadcaster as well, the speaker pointed out.
Stewart's first takeaway from this story: Teamwork matters, just as King's contributions matter.
"Now I'm talking to a room filled with a bunch of Michael Jordans here. So here's my message to you: Michael also that evening had 18 rebounds, six assists, and one blocked shot," said Stewart, challenging each SAMC member to look around themselves, recognize where there's talent, and prop it up.
"Have somebody follow in your footsteps," he advised.
First Sgt. Derrick Lee of C Battery, 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery, emceed the ceremony. He said SAMC consistently commits to support Fort Sill and surrounding communities with volunteer work -- organizations providing direct support to struggling children, homeless veterans, and families in need.
To become an inductee, NCOs have to go through an extensive review and evaluation process. Nominating packets signed by battalion and brigade command sergeants major, an Army Physical Fitness Test, application of knowledge on small arms equipment, execution of rendering first aid, in-depth instruction on Army leader development, and a final review conducted by the post command sergeant major make up phase one of the vetting process.
In phase two, each Soldier appears before several boards, to include battalion, brigade, and installation. The Soldiers are asked situational questions in several areas, to include, but not limited to, leadership, training, physical fitness, and world events, to test their knowledge on military subjects.
1st Sgt. Neal Lang of 1-40th FA introduced Cook as the first of the three inductees, calling him "a stellar noncommissioned officer." Cook is a 1-40th FA drill sergeant responsible for Combat Basic Training Soldiers on all their Skill Level 1 tasks.
Staff Sgt. Johnathan Chiaparra, drill sergeant for 2nd Platoon, D Battery, 1-40th FA spoke on behalf of Reyes, who in addition to her drill sergeant duties is entrusted with the duties of battery armor and master of fitness training. Her goal is to earn an Expert Field Medical Badge, be selected for the 75th Ranger Regiment as an special operations combat medic, and earn a master's degree.
Command Sgt. Maj. Derrick Rankins of 1st Battalion, 31st Field Artillery, spoke for Soto, a senior drill sergeant for Combat Basic Training with 1-31st FA. Soto has been entrusted with several additional duties for the battalion, and he is a member of the Field Artillery Association and the Honorable Order of St. Barbara. His goal is to complete his bachelor's degree and have the honor to serve as command sergeant major.
Presenting the Sgt. Audie Murphy Award to each of the three inductees were Stewart; Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill Command Sgt. Maj. John Foley, and Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Gorman, president of the Fort Sill Chapter of SAMC.