CAMP SHELBY, Miss. - Senior enlisted leaders of the 177th Armored Brigade recently facilitated the Audie Murphy board at the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center to give outstanding Soldiers within First Army the opportunity to join the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club. The SAMC is for noncommissioned officers whose leadership, achievements and performance merit special recognition. Membership, however, is not easily obtained. Murphy's determination made him a legend in the NCO ranks during World War II. Born June 20, 1924 in Kingston, Texas, Sgt. Audie Leon Murphy became the most decorated Soldier in U.S. history despite starting out as a cook for the Army. Determined to be a combat Soldier, Murphy fought against his assignment as a cook and - winning the action - was deployed to the invasion of Sicily in July 1943. Serving three years on active duty, Murphy distinguished himself as a true combat Soldier responsible for taking more than 240 enemy soldiers' lives and earning more than 33 decorations and awards, including the Medal of Honor. He was "battlefield" commissioned as a second lieutenant on Oct. 14, 1944. It's no wonder NCOs have to be the "best of the best" to enter this elite club. Command Sgt. Maj. Andrew Swanson, 177th Armored Brigade, has been an SAMC member since 1990 and was a member of this year's board. "The board is tough; it's meant to be," said Swanson. "The competitors were asked to recite Audie Murphy's biography, followed by the NCO and Soldier's creeds. If they cannot recite the biography and creeds correctly, they are not even considered." If a candidate can hold their composure through reciting the biography and the creeds, then they move on to face the board members. The board members begin to ask a series of scenario-based questions in rapid-fire secession. These test a Soldier's ability to think and react quickly to situations that many NCOs face in their careers. Staff Sgt. Melvin Santos, 177th Armored Brigade finance NCO and SAMC member since 2004, has been involved in many SAMC boards. "I have seen Soldiers leave the board in tears, and when you talk to them later you find out the scenario-based questions are tough," said Santos. He also explained that when you deal with situational questions you have to think and react quickly. One question can be asked and, before a competitor has time to answer, they will get asked another question. Without losing your place you must answer the questions in the correct order starting with the original question. Out of the nine competitors, three earned the reward of membership. Sgt. 1st Class Orlando Monila, 2nd Battalion, 315th Regiment, 72nd Field Artillery Brigade, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; Sgt. 1st Class Virgil Thomas, 1st Battalion, 345th Regiment, 157th Infantry Brigade, Fort Jackson, S.C.; and Sgt. 1st Class Bo Whitson, 3rd Battalion, 314th Field Artillery Regiment, 174th Infantry Brigade, JBMDL, N.J. "It feels great," said Thomas. "I plan to take this experience home to help me mentor my Soldiers." The 177th Armored Brigade trains, coaches and mentors Soldiers, Airmen and Sailors in support of our nation's overseas contingency operations. The majority of the work at the 177th is with mobilized Army reserve component forces, although they also train active forces. The brigade is stationed at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center at Camp Shelby, Miss., which is the largest and most active mobilization training center in the U.S. Army. -30-