News: Select few Fort Bliss soldiers earn top NCO honor
Story by Sgt. Edward Garibay
FORT BLISS, Texas – After a year’s worth of selection, only eight Fort Bliss soldiers proved worthy to earn their induction into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, an elite club for noncommissioned officers, during a ceremony held at the United States Sergeants Major Academy here, Nov. 13.
The SAMC inductees were: Staff Sgt. Vissal Awan, 1st Brigade Combat Team; Sgt. 1st Class Caleb Mellette, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Armored Division; Sgt. 1st Class Eliodoro Molina, 24th Press Camp Headquarters; Staff Sgt. Sebern Huntsman, 4th BCT; Staff Sgt. Fernando Terrazas, 5th Armored Brigade; Sgt. 1st Class Charles Toliver, 4th BCT; and Sgt. Elijah Undernehr, 1st BCT.
The event marked the NCOs’ full membership in the organization as they received the club’s distinctive silver medallion from Command Sgt. Maj. Ronnie Kelley, the senior enlisted leader for 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss.
To earn their right into the club, each candidate had to appear before three separate boards consisting of the post’s most senior enlisted leaders and was required to answer challenging situational questions to test their ability as an NCO. While this may seem simple at first, the candidates could be asked virtually anything.
“For me, it’s one of the biggest honors of my career thus far,” said Awan. “I remember my very first squad leader back when I was a private; he showed up to a Class A inspection and was the only one in the battalion in the formation with this Audie Murphy medallion. Since then, I was like, ‘that’s something I want to be a part of.’ He told me how hard it was, but I was eager to take that challenge. So for me, it’s something very special to me.”
Seven and a half years later, it has come full circle for Awan. He and the seven other inductees can now serve as sources of inspiration for their Soldiers to work hard and become members of the SAMC, according to Terrazas, and this induction was just the start.
“I got really great feedback from the ceremony,” said Staff Sgt. Fernando Terrazas, another of the new inductees and a mobilized Reservist. “At first my soldiers thought it was impossible to become a member as a Reservist, but after seeing me (get inducted) they came up to me and said, ‘you know what? It is possible.’ Now I can go back to my unit and pass along what to do and how to become a member.”
As the newest inductees, these SAMC members are now charged with upholding the mission of the club: to improve the military and civilian community around them. In the last year, the SAMC has accumulated more than 2,400 volunteer hours, and in fact, many of the inductees volunteered for months with the club before becoming a member.
“It wasn’t the medallion that inducted these members,” said Sgt. 1st Class Charity Franco, the president of the SAMC on Fort Bliss. “These NCOs have already done so much for the club, and many of them were volunteering with us long before they even went to their first board. They were members to me with or without that medallion; this ceremony just solidified that.”
During the ceremony Sgt. 1st Class Gidget Borst, 5th Armored Bde., was awarded the Maj. Gen. Aubrey “Red” Newman Award, an achievement for demonstrated counseling and leadership ability.
For more information about the SAMC, visit www.Facebook.com/BlissSAMC.