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Senior NCO now part of select military group

Sergeant Audie Murphy Club refocused at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Northwest Guardian

Published: 06:11PM June 12th, 2014

It took Sgt. 1st Class Randall Johnson three tries to join the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club.

The food service specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, I Corps, is now among just 25 Soldiers — barely a platoon’s worth — who belong to the select club of NCOs at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The club has seen fuller rosters in the past, before the recent wars. With those operations winding down, club president Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Hendricks said the club is ramping up its efforts to find new recruits.

“We’re having multiple events going on,” Hendricks said.

The events include getting out more often to unitsaround the base, talking to NCOs about who Audie Murphy was and what he stands for.

Murphy is the most decorated Soldier in U.S. history, having fought in Africa, Italy, France and Germany in World War II. He earned a battlefield commission for his courage and leadership. He eventually earned every medal for valor the U.S. awarded at the time.

Murphy later went on to be a movie star, poet and songwriter. He starred in “To Hell and Back,” a film about his experience in World War II.

The club started in 1986 at Fort Hood; by 1993, it was FORSCOM-wide as an Army-backed private organization for NCOs who “exemplify leadership characterized by personal concern for the needs, training, development, and welfare of Soldiers and concern for families of Soldiers”, according to a U.S. Army Forces Command regulation.

Johnson meets that standard and exceeds it. said Spc. Jeremy Scott, Headquarters Support Company, I Corps.

“I can count on my hand the number of people in my life who have affected me and helped me for the rest of my life, and he’s one of them,” Scott said.

Scott said Johnson helped him when he came to JBLM, which was Scott’s second duty station. Scott said he was new to the Army and got himself and his family into a difficult bind and found himself trapped.

“It could’ve jeopardized my career,” Scott said. “Sergeant 1st Class Johnson was there to take care of me. He battled that with me for almost a year before it finally got squared away.”

Scott said that there are NCOs and there are sergeants. Johnson was an NCO then and now, he said.

“He goes that extra step,” Scott said.

Johnson said that he wanted to set an example to his fellow Soldiers that “you don’t just stop” after reaching a certain point in your career.

However, the first time Johnson applied, he didn’t make it past the first board of three. He said he wasn’t confident of his answers that time or his next round. His third attempt in March was the charm.

The criteria to get in is about more than medals or achievements, though those can help, Hendricks said. What’s important is how an NCO enters a new organization or unit and serves it.

An NCO who could be a club member sees what needs to be done in a unit and finds creative ways to address it, Hendricks said. For instance, the base education centers might not have as many training classes as they used to, but “we don’t expect Soldiers to let their training slow up,” he said.

“We want them to innovate and make it happen,” Hendricks said. “We ask candidates to go and start a program, or get someone in your company to help and get that program started.”

The benefits, beyond a fancy medallion, include chances to give back to the community through volunteer events and access to a network of the ultimate NCOs on base.

Though that network is small right now, Hendricks said, he has five more candidates coming up through the boards. Someday that pool will include Scott, who said he wants to join the club once he’s promoted and has had time to build up his qualifications.

Hendricks said it’s exactly the outcome he was looking for.

“My hope being that after seeing Johnson be inducted and the support he received, that it would be a spark throughout JBLM that says, ‘This is something I can do,’” he said.