By Vince Little, The BayonetAugust 22, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. - The Fort Benning chapter of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club conducted its quarterly induction ceremony Friday at McGinnis-Wickam Hall.
Nine Soldiers from units across the Maneuver Center of Excellence gained entry. MCoE and Fort Benning Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello, the guest speaker, presented membership medallions during the event in Derby Auditorium.
"Why have the Soldiers being recognized today earned this recognition? It's because they have dedicated themselves to becoming professional Soldiers," Carabello said. "They have earned that stamp of validation, so to speak, that they have embedded the Army values and ideals into who they are -- professionals in the profession of arms.
"The Soldiers who are being inducted today into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club -- they know what right is. … What we try to train Soldiers to do is to instinctively make the right decisions at the right moment, decisions that are critical to saving lives. It is that instinct, that initiative and leveraging those opportunities, in many ways, that the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is about."
The club recognizes noncommissioned officers in the ranks of corporal through sergeant first class who display exemplary leadership. Officials said only 1 percent of NCOs are selected.
Audie Murphy, the organization's namesake, is the most decorated Soldier in American history, according to his biography. He earned the Medal of Honor during World War II.
"Sergeant Audie Murphy earned every one of his promotions in combat -- he led from the front and he epitomized, in combat, everything we aspire in our Soldiers," Carabello said. "The No. 1 thing that saves Soldiers' lives in combat is when junior leaders display initiative when there is a lack of guidance. I don't have to wait for people to give me orders to move to the sound of the guns. These Soldiers here know that.
"The Soldiers being inducted today, they have shown they are committed to giving that 10 percent more today and tomorrow. Getting to this point today didn't come easy. They have shown initiative; they are part of the solution, not the problem."
The Sergeant Audie Murphy Club seeks out those "elite NCOs who lead from the front and go above and beyond the call of duty," said 1st Sgt. Derek Wise, the Fort Benning chapter president.
He said community service is a bedrock of the club's mission -- the organization pursues numerous projects and activities throughout the year. The post chapter has about 85 active members and is always looking for more.
"It's not just about earning a medallion or the Army Commendation Medal," Wise said. "It's almost like the tough part begins after you're inducted. That's when you're getting out into the community. … Not only do we have elite NCOs -- they're doing their duty for the country, but then they're also trying to build strong relationships between Fort Benning and the local community. That's what we're all about."
The club puts on car washes to raise money toward a $500 military spouse scholarship that's presented annually. Each November, it conducts a food drive at the commissary for Damascus Way, a women and children's shelter in Columbus. Members collect toys for Santa's Castle, which provides Christmas gifts to the children of needy military families. They also routinely support House of Heroes and disabled veterans.