By Sgt. Mark Miranda, 4th Bde. 1st Armored Div.August 31, 2010
They are noncommissioned officers who set standards for leadership and excellence. They are called by many names: mentors, role models, inspiration.
On Thursday, 21 of 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division's best NCOs were inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club for their characteristic leadership, professionalism and adherence to Army values.
Though they represented all of the different "Highlander" Brigade battalions and military occupational specialties, the inductees set examples of the highest traditions of military service and leadership.
Many of the NCOs had served multiple combat tours as well.
"These outstanding NCOs took on the challenge of going for induction while deployed," 4/1 AD Command Sgt. Maj. Phillip D. Pandy said.
As the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club motto states, these Soldiers lead from the front.
"The SAMC program is comprised of an elite group, and it's a tough selection process. You're out to impress leadership, to prove your caliber. To get to that point is remarkable," Pandy told the fourteen being inducted.
Considered the highest peacetime honor for an NCO, the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club was started in 1986 at Fort Hood as an effort to recognize noncommissioned officers who displayed the integrity, professionalism, commitment to mentoring subordinate Soldiers, leadership abilities and personal ethics exemplified by Audie L. Murphy, America's most decorated Soldier.
In 1994 the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club spread Army wide. Installations established their own clubs and inductions.
"It's a very prestigious award," said Staff Sgt. Ruben A. Ramos, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment.
"I dedicated my pursuit of this to my battalion CSM, Roger Yuraska - my mentor. In thirteen years of military service, having been in the Marines prior to the Army I'd never met a leader who cared more about his Soldiers," said Ramos.
For these Highlander Brigade inductees, SAMC membership is a beginning. Members of the SAMC are held to the highest Army standards, and they are expected to pass along their skills and knowledge to their Soldiers.
"As I was encouraged by my leadership, I'm also doing the same for one of my NCOs," said Staff Sgt. Liliana Rivera, 123rd Brigade Support Battalion.
"I'm always pushing her to study, to prepare for boards such as NCO of the quarter and beyond; hopefully someday the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club," said Rivera.
Entry into SAMC was not a quick or easy process, as the club is meant only for the top of the NCO Corps.
The process began with nominations from their unit leaders. At the unit level, NCO performance evaluations were conducted, before a screening process began. The last step was the Division Command Sergeant Major's final selection board, which took place during the Highlander Brigade's recent deployment to Iraq.
They were tested on their knowledge of the Army, their Soldiers and their Soldiers' families.
The grueling selection process ensures only the best of the best NCOs are inducted into SAMC.