ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. – Being inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is an honor reserved for resilient and exceptional noncommissioned officers who go above and beyond their duties and responsibilities. Sgt. 1st Class Mikaela Clark has proven to possess all the necessary qualities and attributes to join the prestigious club.
Currently serving as the provost sergeant for the U.S. Army Sustainment Command here, Clark became the newest member to be inducted into the RIA SAMC July 30.
“I am honored to be inducted into the SAMC – it has been a goal of mine throughout my entire career,” she said.
She arrived at ASC in January, coming back from a previous deployment to Kuwait as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2020. There, her platoon was hand-selected to move forward into Iraq to continue supporting OIR, with Clark being the first platoon sergeant – in her unit -- since 2005 to lead her platoon, 21st Military Police Company, 503rd MP Battalion, in Iraq.
In her 11 years in the Army, Clark has deployed three times to the Middle East. Before Kuwait in 2020, Clark deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011, and to Kuwait in support of OEF (Spartan Shield) in 2013.
“Within two minutes of talking with Sgt. 1st Class Clark, you know she’s a leader who cares,” said Col. Scott Kindberg, ASC chief of staff, who presented Clark with the SAMC award and medal. “SFC Clark’s past record of leadership positions in combat and in garrison has set her above her peers.”
Kindberg said that Clark was first recommended by her NCO leadership as the right NCO to go through the SAMC selection process due to her professionalism and demonstrated commitment to the Army profession.
Once recommended, she began participating in RIA community volunteer activities, notably providing support to homeless shelters in the area during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sgt. 1st Class Clark attended the NCO board held by the RIA garrison command sergeant major,” said Kindberg. “It tested her leadership knowledge and allowed sergeants major from across RIA to asses her character before moving on to the final board chaired by Command Sgt. Maj. Marco Torres, ASC, for final selection and recommendation of enrollment into the organization.”
Clark is carrying on a legacy of strong females, proving that being a woman has not held her back in any way.
“I joined the Army because my mother served in the military and I wanted to follow in her footsteps,” Clark said. Born and raised in Riverside, California, Clark enlisted in the U.S. Army going into the Military Police field upon graduating from high school in 2009.
Her mother, Traci Clark, set the example for her daughter by breaking the sociocultural barrier of going into a male-dominated military world. She was a medic in the U.S. Air Force and served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
To put things in perspective, 40,000 American military women deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm from 1990-1991. At the end of ODS, the Air Force Reserve selected its first woman senior adviser and Congress repealed laws banning women from flying in combat.
Growing up, Clark said that she viewed her mother not only as her role model, but as the epitome of what both a mother and strong woman should be.
“She was essentially a single parent who raised my older sister and I on her own while working, going above and beyond to ensure we had what we needed, while excelling in her career as well,” Clark said.
Clark said that her mother’s determination and strong work ethic are things she emulated and always served as inspiration for her to model.
“Just seeing her come home, and how tired she was, she still made sure my sister and I were taken care of … always trying to do something to better our lives.”
Her older sister, Jazmyn Clark – currently an attorney in Seattle, Washington – also helped shape her into who she is today.
“My older sister is definitely at the equivalent level as my mom as far as being a role model,” she said. “She helped raise me, as well, and is now very career-driven.”
Clark has a 4-year-old daughter, Kameron, who she is raising with fiancée Sgt. Emily Cabrera, First U.S. Army. They take the challenges of parenting a young girl in today’s society very seriously, and try to ensure she understands the sky is the limit with possibilities for her future. They also try to teach her resilience by standing on her own, and setting her sights on her goals and dreams without the need of approval from others.
“I hope my daughter grows up to be a strong, independent woman and, if there is something that both Emily and I reinforce in our household, it is to make sure she understand she doesn’t need anyone unless she wants them in her life,” Clark said.
“We want her to know that she never has to feel inferior to anybody – that she is just as capable, if not more capable, to do anything that other people are doing.”
Being a parent has also opened up Clark’s eyes to mentoring not only her daughter, but also younger Soldiers who are the future generation of America’s military force.
“You have to make sure they know what right looks like, because they are going to be the future senior leaders of the Army.”
Throughout her military education, Clark was often recognized for her academic excellence and tactical proficiency. She was placed on the Commandant’s List in the Basic Leaders Course, the Advanced Leaders Course, and the Battle Staff NCO Course; she was a Distinguished Leadership Award and Commandant’s List recipient for the Senior Leaders Course, and an Honor Graduate for the Jumpmaster School and the Basic Airborne Course.
Some of her major achievements include: Winning the battalion NCO of the Year Competition in fiscal year 2018 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, when she was in the 503rd MP battalion (Airborne); Drill Sergeant of the Cycle, twice; and in 2011 she was awarded Soldier of the Rotation while serving at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, for the NTC Rotation 11-03.
Clark recently participated in the ASC Best Warrior Competition, where she achieved second place, proving that she has the right skills to compete in a heavily male-dominated competition.
The original SAMC was created at Fort Hood, Texas, in 1986, to honor Sgt. Audie L. Murphy, the most decorated combat Solider of World War II. It spread Army-wide in 1994, with other installations retaining the selection process for their own NCOs.
The SAMC is comprised of the top 2 % of the NCOs in the Army who demonstrate excellence on a daily basis. Membership is exclusive to those whose leadership achievements and performance set them apart.
“SAMC is a vehicle for NCOs to participate in volunteer activities on and off post for the betterment of the community,” Kindberg said. “The SAMC provided Sgt. 1st Class Clark a network and a camaraderie amongst the inducted members allowing them to further develop the Army’s NCO Corps to achieve excellence.”
Clark has a message for any younger Soldiers who are not familiar with the SAMC.
“The SAMC’s overall vision is to continuously improve tomorrows Army, our post and local communities,” she said.