In a ceremony at Sandy Basin Community Center on Sept. 2, the coveted Forces Command Sergeant Audie Murphy Award bronze medallion was presented to B Company, 229th Aviation Regiment, 2916th Aviation Battalion’s Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Clapp.
Honoring Clapp with this singular honor were National Training Center Commander Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin and Command Sgt. Maj. Noe Salinas, who presented the medallion with its distinctive powder blue ribbon to Clapp. In receiving this award, Clapp gained entry in Fort Irwin’s Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, its first inductee in the past 14 months. He did so in front of 100 NTC senior leaders and SAMC members.
Salinas, a recipient of the SAMA in 1996, described Clapp as a non-commissioned officer who has gone beyond his daily duties and responsibilities. He went on to say Clapp has truly displayed the “Be, Know, Do” that all non-commissioned officers strive to accomplish and exhibit.
“The program is designed to coach, teach and mentor our super NCOs,” Salinas said about SAMC. “It singles out the NCOs who are truly the best and brightest, and provide the everyday NCO leadership that shapes the rest of the corps of non-commissioned officers.”
In an interview shortly after the ceremony, Clapp said, “It’s really an honor. I’m still pretty amped up. It’s an awesome responsibility. I hope I can give to the club what the club gave me.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Albert Rodriguez, the 2916th Aviation Battalion’s command sergeant major, who urged Clapp to vie for the award, noted how eight months ago, he challenged his battalion NCOs to set their sights on achieving excellence, “to strive to make themselves a little bit better.”
“One of the NCO’s who stepped up … is standing before you today,” Rodriguez stated.
Rodriguez noted how Clapp had followed his brother Jacob, older by six years and taller by six inches, into the Army.
“Sergeant Clapp, you are no longer the underdog,” Rodriguez said. “You are the odds-on favorite. But you can’t just go on your own. You have to make your entire team better. It’s time to make your entire team the odds-on favorite,” Rodriguez said.
Fort Irwin SAMC President Sgt. 1st Class Wendy Talton noted the 32 members in the Fort Irwin chapter “serve the corps of Army Non-Commissioned Officers, from corporals to first sergeants or master sergeants.”
“We also teach, coach and mentor Soldiers,” Talton said. “It doesn’t matter what rank they are.”
Talton said that club members are inducted after being awarded the Sergeant Audie Murphy Award, by successfully completing a rigorous, four-step screening and selection process, including recommendations from their senior NCOs, passing a performance test, then going before several boards. Inductees are also mentored by SAMC members at chapter meetings and activities, including volunteer work for SAMC projects, while also studying for the SAMC on various topics – but especially depicting what leadership truly is, as exemplified by Sergeant Audie Murphy, the Army’s most decorated Soldier of World War II and later a Hollywood movie star and recording artist.