Sgt. Audie Murphy Club serves as elite organization for NCOs
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FORT POLK, La. -- Most kids think that super heroes are cool. Strength beyond measure and the ability to fly are just two of the attributes that help them defeat the bad guys. Adults know those characteristics can be found only in the imagination. That doesn't mean there aren't real heroes. Any Soldier can tell you that.

Audie Murphy is one of those heroes. In his short lifetime, this sharecropper's son would grow to become a movie star, song writer and poet in addition to a legend on the battlefield. That seemed unlikely during World War II when he was turned away from both the Marines and paratroopers for being too small.

On his third attempt to enlist and fight for his country, the Army recruited Murphy. Soon, everyone found out it was Murphy's attributes rather than his stature -- he was only 5 feet 5 inches tall -- that made him a great Soldier. Murphy is the highest decorated Soldier in American history.

Leadership, courage and skill are what helped him and his Soldiers defeat the enemy. Those qualities are at the heart of the Army's noncommissioned officer's professional spirit and the basis for becoming a member of the Audie Murphy Club.

"The Audie Murphy Club is an organization of Soldiers that have a true desire to give back to the Army, community, Soldiers and Family members. They don't just care about the Army community, but the community as a whole," said Sgt. 1st Class Arnie Cobos, 6th Battalion, 353rd Regiment, 162nd Infantry Brigade (Foreign Security Forces Training Team). Cobos is the president of the Fort Polk chapter of the Audie Murphy Club.

You can't just sign up to be a member of this elite organization. Cobos said that though Soldiers compete for membership only against themselves, just a small number of them make it through a rigorous set of evaluations. "The club is made up of the top 10 percent of your NCOs in the military. Any Soldier from sergeant to sergeant first class is eligible to try to become a member," said Cobos.

The process begins when Soldiers present themselves to the board to determine if they meet organizational requirements. "It is a three-board process that starts at battalion and then moves to brigade and division levels. The final approving authority is the division level sergeant major. On this installation that is Sgt. Maj. Christopher K. Greca, post command sergeant major. The boards are made up of a panel of sergeants major, which includes one Audie Murphy member. Applicants must pass all three boards before they become members," said Cobos.

She said Soldiers strive to become members of the club, but there isn't a lot of advance studying involved. Knowledge required for the boards includes how to care for people, regulations and post policies, how to be legally, ethically and morally correct in anything that you do and your willingness to give back to the community. Much of this knowledge is intangible. "One of the things you can study is Audie Murphy's bio, which is in the Forces Command bylaws that govern our organization -- regulation 215-7. That's the only official bio you can use. You also need to know about the crest and a little bit about the organization and what we do because there are several chapters across the country -- each one a little different," said Cobos.

She said if you don't become a member the first time through -- don't give up. Just try again. "Not everybody makes it the first time. I think the thing that affects most people when they go before the board is their fear of the board itself. It's not a straight question and answer format. Instead, these boards throw scenarios at you. Basically, they give you a situation to work through. They want to know what you are going to do to assist a Soldier or their Family member through whatever problem they are facing. You get hit with a lot of ethical dilemmas. They make you think," said Cobos.

Boards are held quarterly and the tentative schedule for the fourth quarter of this year is Oct. 2. The first quarter of next year is Jan. 6. Induction takes place at the commanding general's quarterly award ceremony following the receipt of a certificate and an Audie Murphy medallion.

Member activities include:

*Establishing a scholarship fund.

*Mandating more than 30 volunteer hours per member.

*Conducting outreach with the Fort Bliss chapter to raise money for hurricane relief.

*Community projects like Habitat for Humanity.

Cobos said that the club is currently getting back on their feet. "With all the deployments going on, the organization hasn't had a huge turn out. So, we are out there recruiting and trying to get members involved again," said Cobos. In the future, Cobos hopes to sponsor the Leesville Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps for a drill team competition. "This is a great opportunity for outstanding NCOs to participate in something worthwhile and to give back to the community, Soldiers and Family members," said Cobos.

Cobos said that Soldiers interested in becoming members are encouraged to attend the meetings held once a month. The next meeting is July 29 at 11:30 a.m. For more information about the Audie Murphy club call 653-2420.