Two Bastogne noncommissioned officers were inducted into the Fort Campbell Sgt. Audie Murphy Club Nov. 10, after proving exceptional leadership and completing a rigorous application process.
Staff Sergeant Matthew McCauley, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 326th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and Staff Sgt. Giqosheldon Tomokane, B Troop, 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st BCT, were inducted into the local chapter of the club during a small socially-distanced ceremony.
Command Sergeant Major Derek Wise, 1st BCT senior enlisted adviser, served as the guest speaker of the ceremony.
“It’s a great day to be in the United States Army. It’s an even better day to be here stationed at Fort Campbell as we recognize these two exceptional noncommissioned officers,” Wise said. “This is a very special moment, not only for the inductees, but for all of the people associated with these phenomenal NCOs. The club was created to develop, inspire and motivate the best leaders in the United States Army. These leadership achievements and performance merit special recognition.”
During the ceremony, Sgt. Audie Leon Murphy was described as one of the last early American war heroes. Murphy was refused enlistment to the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II because he was too small, standing at only 5-feet, 5-inches tall and weighing 110 pounds. Murphy refused to be discouraged, he wanted serve his country and enlisted in the U.S. Army after his 18th birthday. After basic training at Camp Wolters, Texas, and advanced training at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, Murphy was deployed overseas.
Murphy was assigned to the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, where he fought in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. Murphy’s courage and leadership earned him a battlefield’s commission. 2nd Lt. Audie Murphy went on to earn every medal for valor America can bestow upon its troops, including the Medal of Honor. He also was awarded three French and Belgian medals. He remains the most decorated Soldier in U.S. Army history.
“Becoming a Sgt. Audie Murphy Club member is no simple undertaking,” Wise said. “It requires hours of studying and homework by NCOs who are relentless, committed, disciplined and strive for excellence by setting the example in all actions.”
The Sgt. Audie Murphy Club is a private U.S. Army organization for enlisted NCOs, founded in 1986 at Fort Hood, Texas. NCOs whose leadership achievements and performance merit special recognition may possibly earn the reward of membership. To become a member, NCOs must exemplify leadership characterized by personal concern for the needs, training, development and welfare of Soldiers and concern for Families of Soldiers.
If an NCO meets these standards, he or she can be recommended by a noncommissioned officer in his or her chain-of-command to apply to the club through the rigorous board examination process and physical fitness testing. The final selection board consists of the Army Physical Fitness Test, a written examination and an oral board to assess the knowledge of each candidate.
“I’m a Cavalry scout, and I’m currently the senior scout within my platoon,” said Tomokane, who has been in the Any for 13 years. “I am responsible for everything my Soldiers fail or accomplish. We are responsible for reconnaissance and security in our normal day-to-day tasks or in the field. We act as the eyes and ears for the brigade commander to make decisive action.”
During the induction ceremony, Soldiers who serve under McCauley and Tomokane spoke of their leadership and why they deserve to be inducted into the club.
“Staff Sergeant Tomokane is the most exemplary NCO I’ve had the pleasure of serving with,” said Sgt. Austin Heiser, B Troop, 1-32nd Cav. Regt. “He always looks out for every Soldier and their Families. He has mentored and coached me to be the best leader I can be every single day.”
This was Tomokane’s second time going through the process to qualify for induction into the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, his first attempt was in 2018.
“The first time I wasn’t recommended,” he said. “It’s a grueling competition from start to finish, studying and preparing while also taking care of all of my Soldiers and their Families, and my own Family. I’ve learned so much through this process about what it means to be a better leader. I recommend all NCOs try for it, because it pushes you to be a better leader and encourages you to try for hard things.”
Tomokane is thankful for the support of his Soldiers as well as his wife, Chantelle, and his daughter, Cadence Ginae.
“I want to get more NCOs involved in the club,” he said. “My job now is to help identify leaders who display characteristics of [Sgt.] Audie Murphy. By identifying these leaders, we strengthen the Army as a whole, because their leadership is bettered even more through the application process. I appreciate all of my Soldiers, including my senior leadership. It’s truly an honor to serve in the United States Army.”
McCauley also reflected on the challenging process of applying to the club, and said the challenge was completely worth it after working through it for more than a year.
“I am a wheeled vehicle mechanic, I currently serve as the maintenance control sergeant for the battalion,” McCauley said. “I manage 63 Soldiers to make sure the battalion is ready to deploy at a moment’s notice with their equipment. I’ve been in the Army for eight years. I found out about the club from one of my previous first sergeants, he brought up the club to me and recommended I apply.”
McCauley said he admires Murphy’s leadership and character, something his Soldiers say he exemplifies as well.
“Staff Sergeant McCauley has dedicated all of his time to me and my Soldiers, he has been a prime example of leadership the whole time I’ve known him,” said Sgt. James Musumeci, HHC 326th BEB. “He leads from the front and he’s never let me down.”
McCauley applied for the club because he wanted to challenge himself.
“[Murphy] was the type of the leader I aspire to mold myself into,” he said. “I hope my Soldiers will look at this as an example to challenge themselves and push themselves to try for challenging things. I studied for well over a year, it’s a long process, it took me a lot of studying. There were a lot of failures and learning from mistakes, but I had my fellow NCOs teaching me everything they know through the process.”
McCauley said his Family taught him how to never give up and to always better himself which translates into his leadership.
“I want my Soldiers to know it’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it,” he said. “You have to give 100% and always commit to everything you do.”
Tomokane and McCauley are now a part of an organization bigger than themselves and will leave a legacy for leadership excellence, Wise said.
“Nearly 76 years ago, Audie Murphy’s heroic actions to protect his Soldiers and defeat the enemy made sure he would forever be thought of in a different light,” Wise said. “Just as from this day forward, each of you will forever be thought of in a different light. Our Soldiers and their Families deserve outstanding leadership, each of us must provide that leadership. Our Soldiers, our Army, and our country deserve our very best, because they are counting on us.”
To learn more about Murphy and the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, visit: https://www.audiemurphy.com/samc.htm.