FORT HOOD, TX, UNITED STATES
FORT HOOD, Texas - The Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is a prestigious club; only those who meet its strict standards are inducted into its ranks. Many have tried to gain acceptance into the SAMC and have failed.
Two NCOs spent a good amount of time in advance to prepare for the SAMC board and their efforts were worth it. After completing the rigorous selection process, they were inducted as new members of the SAMC Dec. 3, at III Corps Headquarters.
“It was a two-year, rigorous process,” said Staff Sgt. Mistie Peña, a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 89th Military Police Brigade unit supply noncommissioned officer. “I had to go through various boards to prepare, including the Best Warrior Competition, Brigade NCO of the year and a SAMC pre-board.
Staff Sgt. Shane Payne, the HHC, 62nd Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade battalion schools NCO, spent any spare moment he could afford studying in preparation for the SAMC.
“He’s been studying for the SAMC since Afghanistan (2012-2013), so he has been preparing for over a year,” said Spc. Benjamin Rogers, a Company B, 91st Brigade Engineer Battalion heavy equipment operator. “He was the lead gun truck commander and I was his driver, and I remember hearing him recite Audie Murphy material.”
According to Rogers, Payne was not only ensuring he was ready for the SAMC board, but also went above and beyond to ensure his soldiers were ready for the mission.
“Every mission, he was upfront leading everyone else,” Rogers said. “He would go over the route with me and would make sure me and the lieutenant’s driver were 100-percent prepared. He even helped out the other squads if they needed it.”
“As a team leader or squad leader, it is my job to find out what the mission is and teach my subordinates how to get the mission completed,” Payne said.
And Payne did just that in Afghanistan, Rogers added. By doing so, Payne ensured his soldiers knew what he knew so they could take his position, if needed.
“He has been preparing us to be future leaders,” Rogers said. “He ensured that we were studying to become NCOs and were ready for the board. On top of that, he ensures his soldiers’ affairs are taken care of; I am not sure how he juggles all of it.”
When it comes to NCOs giving outstanding guidance to soldiers, Peña was no exception, according to Spc. Arielle Navarro, an HHC, 89th MP Brigade military police officer. Navarro is not yet an NCO and Peña is helping her study for the SAMC.
“She is a motivator,” Navarro said. “She is constantly behind the soldiers, motivating them to do better at PT. Every morning she is very loud; you can hear her from a mile away.
“She always put soldiers first,” Navarro added. “She helped me out with the Fort Hood board. She took me to the air assault obstacle course and to the range. She took all of this extra time to help me.”
Peña ensures her soldiers are signed up for classes outside of the military, Navarro said. She shows she cares about her subordinates’ development as whole persons, making sure they are going to do well in school and asking what their degree plans are.
The SAMC members, recognized and selected for their excellence, continue to set the example by going out and helping people within Army and local communities.
“We mentor other NCOs who may need some help with professional development,” Payne said. “It is our job as SAMC members to be always putting out new information relating to regulations and manuals. As a member, you conduct research on what is new and distribute accordingly.
“SAMC also does Operation Homefront,” she added. “This is where they help out with clothes, food donations and toy drives. They also do 5ks, and car washes to raise money.
“As soldiers, we are the face of America,” Peña concluded. “In the SAMC, we do things that help the community, not just the Army, but all Americans.”
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This work, SAMC inductees set NCO standards high, by SSG Samuel Northrup, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.