Mendoza earns his way into Sgt. Audie Murphy Club

| December 8, 2016 | 0 Comments

Story and photos by
Donna Klapakis
599th Transportation Brigade Public Affairs

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — A 599th Transportation Brigade noncommissioned officer was formally recognized as a member of the top three percent of all NCOs in the Army during an end-of-tour award ceremony at brigade headquarters, here, Dec. 2.

Sgt. 1st Class Juan Mendoza, 599th logistics NCOIC, became a member of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club – a club that not any NCO can just join. All members must earn their way into it through a series of tests.

Sgt. 1st Class Juan Mendoza, 599th logistics NCOIC, speaks to assembled colleagues and guests after his induction into the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club and the Ancient Order of Saint Martin during an end of tour award ceremony at brigade headquarters on Dec. 2. He also received a Meritorious Service Medal and an Army Commendation Medal during the ceremony. (Photo by Donna Klapakis )

Sgt. 1st Class Juan Mendoza, 599th logistics NCOIC, speaks to assembled colleagues and guests after his induction into the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club and the Ancient Order of Saint Martin during an end of tour award ceremony at brigade headquarters on Dec. 2. He also received a Meritorious Service Medal and an Army Commendation Medal during the ceremony. (Photo by Donna Klapakis )

“The Sgt. Audie Murphy Club gives our top NCOs a big goal they can aspire to,” said 599th Trans. Bde. Command Sgt. Maj. William Funcheon. “Many NCOs can never make the cut, (but) Sgt. 1st Class Mendoza did it on his first try before the board. I could not be prouder of him.”

Although Mendoza was just inducted into the club, another member of the brigade was already a SAMC member before he arrived here.

Sgt. 1st Class Randy Rodriguez, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment first sergeant, became a member while he was deployed to Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan.

“I’ve offered the packet to other people who I thought might be sharp enough to go through the process to become a member of the club, but most of them didn’t want to endure the time it took out of their lives to study,” Rodriquez said.

“Sgt. 1st Class Mendoza, on the other hand, took the packet and ran with it. When I came to help him get ready for the board, he was already on top of the material in the packet, and I just had to help him prepare to answer real-life scenario questions that he might face in the board and the real world,” Rodriguez added.

Mendoza is not the first person in his family to become a member of the exclusive club.

“When I brought home the packet and began to study for the board, my wife said, ‘Oh, my mother was a Sgt. Audie Murphy Club member,’” Mendoza said. “It was a big surprise, and made it even more important that I succeed.”

Just going through the experience of preparing is important, said Rodriguez.

“I learned so much while I was preparing for the tests,” he said. “I’d encourage everyone to prepare for the SAMC, whether they succeed or not. Going through the experience of preparation is a great challenge in itself.”

Although the outcome is not assured until results are announced, people with whom he works never doubted Mendoza’s success.

“The fact that he passed the Audie Murphy board was no surprise to any of us,” said Neal James, Mendoza’s supervisor and brigade logistics director. “We all knew he would.

“Sgt. 1st Class Mendoza is a true leader,” James continued. “If you are a leader, you can see that in him. He’s done great things for the brigade, and he will be remembered long after he leaves. He will leave here equipped to accomplish whatever challenges he meets.”

The SAMC is named for Audie L. Murphy, Medal of Honor recipient and the most decorated Soldier of World War II. The organization is limited to “NCOs who exhibit qualities and abilities characterized by those of Sgt. Audie Murphy,” according to Training and Doctrine Command Regulation 600-14.

According to the Audie L. Murphy Memorial website, “The SAMC is was started at Fort Hood, Texas, early in 1986. … In 1994 at a Sergeant Major of the Army conference, the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club spread Army-wide, to all commands with installations retaining the selection process for their own NCOs. In 1998, it was estimated that the club membership was over 3,000 Soldiers and was steadily increasing.”

During the SAMC ceremony, Mendoza was also inducted into the Ancient Order of St. Martin and received a Meritorious Service Medal and an Army Commendation Medal.

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Category: Leadership, News

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