By CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
“The Backbone of the Army.”
The six inductees who are now a part of the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Association epitomize this phrase of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps.
On Friday at Waybur Theater six Fort Knox NCOs joined the esteemed club which is named after Audie Leon Murphy, the most decorated combat Soldier of World War II.
According to the Fort Knox SAMA, membership is a privilege that is earned by less than 2 percent of all NCOs in the Army. Members of the SAMA are those NCOs who have passed an extensive evaluation process. Members exemplify leadership characterized by personal concern for the needs, training, development and welfare of Soldiers and concern for Families of Soldiers, according to Training and Doctrine Command Regulation 600-14.
When Soldiers are studying and preparing for the board it isn’t something that can be done in a short period of time. For most of the inductees it meant studying for about six to 12 months. When they appear before the board Soldiers must recite the NCO Creed and Sergeant Audie Murphy’s bio.
Master Sgt. Rachel Terrell, the Fort Knox SAMA president, said Soldiers need to understand and believe that nothing is unattainable. As long as they care for Soldiers and their Families, they won’t have issues with the board.
“Yes, it’s a lot of studying, and that takes time and dedication, but if you know your Soldiers and care for them, you will be fine,” explained Terrell, “because the questions are putting you in situations involving your Soldiers.”
Fort Knox Soldiers have additional help when preparing for the board in the form of study halls which meet the second and fourth Wednesday of the month.
Guest speaker retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston, said the member’s contribution have made the U.S. military the greatest in the world.
“Thank you to the Families and all the sacrifices they make,” said Preston. “The Army is the strength of our nation, (and) Families are the strength of our Soldiers. This is a huge accomplishment to become a member (of the SAMA). To hold that title is a significant achievement, something you can be proud of.”
Preston pointed out that preparing and going before the board of command sergeant majors was probably intimidating to some of the NCOs.
“It’s a scary thought (when) you walk in there as a young noncommissioned officer,” he said. “What does this adventure you’ve undertaken mean? (It means) you are a subject matter expert. You had to reach into that bag of knowledge on how to deal with that unique problem.
“(You are a) master trainer, an expert on weapons. (You) know everything about the military culture. Does it mean early promotion? It might. I think it goes deeper than that. You are the epitome of an NCO. We want to showcase you. You know what right looks like. You know what it takes to obtain excellence.”
The association’s new members include Sgts. 1st Class Kevin Wildman of the 1st Brigade, U.S. Army Cadet Command; James Schulz of the Army Reserve Readiness Training Center; Ian Northrup of the U.S. Recruiting Command; Staff Sgts. Delroy Williams Jr., of ARRTC; Lynnette Bryant of the Headquarters United States Cadet Command and Francia Gil-Rodriquez of the United States Human Resources Command.
Bryant has been in the Army for 14 years as a transport operator. Her military education includes the Equal Opportunity Leaders Course, Senior Leader Course, Advance Leader Course, Combative Level I, Warrior Leader Course, Supervisor Development Course and Action Officer Development Course.
Bryant has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Trident University International in Cypress, Calif. She plans to attend Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, Ala., to study for her master’s degree in human resources.
Northrup resides in Burlington, Iowa as the Future Soldier squad leader assigned to the United States Army Recruiting Command. He has been in the Army for 11 years. His military education includes Airborne School, the Primary Leadership Development Course, Advanced Leaders Course, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention Course and the Army Recruiter Course.
Northrup has an associate’s degree from Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Schulz is a senior instructor for the Unit Movement Officer Course at the Army Reserve Readiness Training Center. His military education includes the Unit Movement Officer Course, Total Army Instructor Training Course, Counterinsurgency Leaders Course, Foreign Security Forces-Combat Advisor Training, the Advanced Noncommissioned Officers Course, the United States Army Ranger School, the Basic Noncommissioned Officers Course, Light Leaders Infantry School, Combatives Levels I and II, Airborne School, Drill Sergeant School and the Primary Leadership Development Course.
Williams is a motor transport operator with ARRTC and he is also a senior instructor for the Unit Movement Officer and Transportation Coordinator’s-Automated Information for Movement Systems II courses.
His military education includes the Unit Movement Officer Course, TC-AIMMS II, the Battle Staff NCO Course, Airborne Course, Air Assault Course, Unit Prevention Leader Course, combat Life Saver’s Course, Equal Opportunity Leader Course, Master Fitness Trainer Course and Hazmat Certifier Course.
Williams is currently pursuing a bachelor’s of arts in business from American Military University in Charlestown, W.Va.
Wildman has served as a rifle team leader, sniper team leader, squad leader, sniper section leader, drill sergeant, senior drill sergeant, reconnaissance platoon sergeant and assistant brigade operations NCO.
Some of Wildman’s greatest leadership achievements are successful deployments to two deployments to Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, being named the Fort Knox Drill Sergeant of the Year in 2009 International Top Sniper Competition Winner (Open Class) and receiving the Order of Saint Maurice.
Gil-Rodriguez has served as a personnel specialist and sergeant. Her mobilization includes the support of Noble Eagle Operation, Salinas, Puerto Rico. Her military education consists of the Human Resources Senior Leaders Course (Commandants List), Human Resources Advance Leaders Course, Primary Leaders Development Course, Combat Lifesaver, Unit Prevention Leaders Course, Equal Opportunity Leaders Representative, USAR Unit Pay Administrator and Mobilization Planning Data Viewer Version II. Gil-Rodriguez has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, with magna cum laude honors from Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. She is currently enrolled in a 12-month online English program to improve her English proficiency through EFEnglishTown.com.
After induction the Soldiers received a Sergeant Audie Murphy medallion and an Army Commendation Medal. They also received a hand-made engraved pen and case with the SAMC crest and the University Challenge Coin saluting NCOs, $25 gift card, an Internet music download card and a Military Team Coin from a national business, the “Medal of Honor Book”, an eagle/flag certificate and a $50 gift card, an engraved tomahawk and a plaque, coin and a one-year membership to an organization that supports the Army.
Preston said that the inductees should now take the knowledge they’ve gained and teach their subordinates. They should also, “Teach them how to lead. You are a role model. Take all you’ve learned and use that to teach and mentor others.”
Terrell pointed out that the association will help Soldiers develop into a better human being, which in turn will help them become a better NCO.
“It will put you in the path of some really great leaders that can guide and mentor you and give you sound advice to help you make the best decisions for you, your Soldiers and the Army as a whole,” she said.