Story by SFC Josephine Pride on 02/07/2019The West Point chapter of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club welcomed seven new members, and one honorary member, during an induction ceremony Jan. 18 in the Haig Room.
The inductees were 1st Sgt. Michael P. Kearny, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Military Academy; Sgt. 1st Class John R. Bartley, Company D, 3rd Regiment, U.S. Corps of Cadets; Sgt. 1st Class Mario J. Espinoza, Brigade Tactical Department, USCC; Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Higgs, USMA Preparatory School; Sgt. 1st Class Cesilio Martinez, Department of Military Instruction, USCC; Sgt. 1st Class Michael Mullins, Company H, 4th Regiment, USCC; and Sgt. 1st Class Joshua White, HHC, USMA.
Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas C. Kenny, USCC, was also inducted into the club as an honorary member.
Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, 60th Superintendent at West Point, praised the corps of non-commissioned officers and acknowledged the immense responsibility they have in the Army.
"Here at West Point we talk about living honorably, leading honorably, and demonstrating excellence, and what you see behind me is the very top of that excellence," Williams said. "I've been to many countries but what distinguishes the U.S. Army is our commitment of non-commissioned officers."
The SAMC, initially established in Fort Hood, Texas in 1986, is a private Army organization that recognizes and rewards distinguished non-commissioned officers who exemplify a special kind of leadership characterized by a personal concern for the needs, training, development and welfare of Soldiers.
The club is modeled after the attributes of Sgt. Audie Leon Murphy, the most decorated Soldier of World War II.
According to its website, the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club spread Army-wide in 1994 and became recognized by U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Army Medical Command and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to give installations the ability to retain the selection process for their NCOs.
The history of the West Point chapter goes back only a few years. In its inception, it was discovered that none of the major commands could authorize the chapter to align with them, said 1st Sgt. Amanda Weinstein, Keller Army Community Hospital.
While the chapter functions just like the chapters under FORSCOM, MEDCOM and TRADOC, it is unique in that it stands alone and in addition to those major commands.
"The club is a means to recognize outstanding NCOs," said Master Sgt. Randall Copiskey, Company A-4 Tactical non-commissioned officer, and president of the West Point chapter. "When you carry that medallion around your neck people are going to have high expectations of you. When you meet an NCO, and you hear they are an Audie Murphy member it's almost like instant credibility."
For the seven candidates to be considered for membership, they had to perform a variety of warrior tasks and drills before they appeared in front of a board of panel members who would make the final decision.
"I am incredibly proud of all the inductees here today because these non-commissioned officers truly represent the very best in our corps," said Command Sgt. Maj. Jack Love, West Point's most senior enlisted leader.
It was no surprise to Copiskey that all candidates were selected to earn a spot in the club. To obtain an assignment to West Point alone says a lot about an individual's skills.
"We have 19 different military occupational skills in the brigade tactical department alone," Copiskey said. "To be the one person in your MOS to come work at West Point, we already know that you are going to be a quality NCO. I had pretty high expectations, and I think they were met."
Newly inducted SAMC member Espinoza, senior enlisted leader for the USMA Brigade Tactical Department, is no stranger to Army competitions.
He competed in the NATO Best Soldier Competition in Croatia in 2015 where his team took seventh place. He also won Brigade Drill Sergeant of the Quarter in 2013.
"It was challenging to balance work and study time, but when you want something you will find the time," Espinoza said. "Part of what we do here is mentor the cadets on time management, so this was me exercising that."
For other inductees, competing in the board was more about setting the example for others. Higgs, Tactical NCO, USMA Preparatory School, could have been inducted into SAMC as an honorary member since he was already a Sgt. Morales Club member.
"The Audie Murphy Club was always something I wanted to achieve, and I didn't want it just to be handed to me because I was a Morales inductee," Higgs said. "I decided to go through the entire board process to test my mettle and see if I still had the sharpness I had when I was inducted into the Morales club 10 years ago."
Now that newly inducted members have been formally welcomed into the club, the real work is about to begin.
The West Point chapter works with the local community to raise funds for college scholarships and gives back to those in need.
"Once you get into the club, that's when the real work starts," said Copiskey. "We try to embody the stewardship of the profession with the SAMC. To us that means we go out into the community, and we try to give back as much as possible."
For more information about the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club go to www.audiemurphy.com.