By Fort Sill Tribune staffJanuary 17, 2020
Fort Sill, Oklahoma (Jan. 17, 2020) -- A never-quit attitude was one of the qualities that got a drill sergeant, and a bandsman accepted into the Fort Sill Chapter of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club.
Drill Sergeant (Staff Sgt.) Keli'i Torres, and Staff Sgt. Daniel Kelley were inducted into the SAMC Jan. 15, in front of dozens of their fellow Soldiers, families, friends, and post leaders at Snow Hall.
For Torres and Kelley, it was their third and second attempts, respectively, to get into the prestigious club.
"It one of the greatest achievements that I've done," said Kelly, a saxophone player and team leader with the 77th Army Band. "It's an honor to be part of this, and I really look forward to helping out the club."
Being inducted into the SAMC was a huge accomplishment, said Torres, an advanced individual training drill sergeant with A Battery, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery.
"A lot of hard work paid off, and this is a big day in my career," Torres said.
Guest speaker Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Slater, 1st Battalion, 19th Field Artillery, told the inductees that being a SAMC member will pay dividends for years.
"I made the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club as a young staff sergeant with four years time-in-grade" said Slater. "I firmly believe that this medal (SAMC medallion) around my neck got me to become a command sergeant major in 18 years. You can do it, too."
The motto of the SAMC is "You Lead from the Front," and Slater spoke about that. SAMC members are role models for NCOs, for the Army, and myriad echelons, he said.
"At the cornerstone of membership is the distinct and transparent value referred to as the eighth Army Value: Humility," the CSM said. Recently, humility and empathy were introduced as necessary leadership attributes, and are included in Army doctrine.
Slater said he looks at a stickie-note every day that he made 20 years ago. It reads "Be Humble."
He charged the new inductees to remain humble, and to use principles from the club as they lead their Soldiers.
During the ceremony, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill Command Sgt. Maj. John Foley presented Kelley and Torres with the SAMC medallion, Army Commendation Medal, certificate of achievement, and his Coin of Excellence.
The Fort Sill SAMC has about 75 active members, who assist needy Soldiers and military families; as well as perform volunteer work with agencies in the community, said Sgt. 1st Class James Compton, club president.
Potential SAMC members must be nominated by a club member, or first sergeant. Candidates go a through series of rigorous performance-based tests and formal boards beginning at the battery or company. It's similar to the Best Warrior competition.
"It definitely takes a lot of dedication and perseverance," Compton said.
The final board is at the FCoE level in front of Foley, and other CSMs from the installation.
"The boards aren't looking for book answers, though they do help guide, but they are looking at what kind of NCO you are, what kind of leader you are," Compton said.
The whole process is intense, grueling, and it is not uncommon not be selected on the first attempt, Compton said.
"We tell our guys that failure is not a loss, but a win because they now know what they need to do to make themselves better," he said.
Each SAMC candidate has a mentor to guide them in their journey to membership, Compton said. They assist with academics, warrior tasks, physical training, and board presentation skills.
Kelley's sponsor was Staff Sgt. Quamar Crapps, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 95th Adjutant General Battalion (Reception). (She has since transferred to Fort Jackson, South Carolina.)
"This whole process was very difficult, and she kept me going," Kelley said.
1st Sgt. Wesley Weaver, A/1-78th FA, nominated Torres and was also his mentor.
"As soon as he came into my battery he showed leadership potential because he cared about his Soldiers," said Weaver. "He wanted to develop them."
The SAMC conducts quarterly boards. For more information, visit Facebook's Fort Sill SAMC.