FORT MEADE, Md. — Military Police Soldiers across the Army Reserve will have a shot to compete for one of the most prestigious leadership awards in the Army, beginning next year.
The 200th Military Police Command has officially launched its Sergeant Audie Murphy Awards (SAMA) program, and they’re looking for sergeants to compete.
“Our military police are among the best in the Army. They go above and beyond when it comes to training and caring for their troops. I’m confident we have Soldiers across our command who are worthy of competing for this award,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Owens, the 200th MP Command’s most senior enlisted leader.
The award program has been around since 1986, earned by noncommissioned officers across the Army, but this is the first time the 200th MP Command will host the program to award Soldiers from within their ranks.
“The Audie Murphy Award is not easily earned,” said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Snow, who received the medallion in 2003 while mobilized to Fort Carson, Colorado. “You have to know your job. You have to know your Soldiers and your unit. Leadership is, of course, paramount.”
Snow, who is one of the operations and training NCOs for the command, has been heavily involved in helping launch the program.
Earning the award is much like battling through a Best Warrior Competition, he said, except Soldiers are not pitted against each other for a top spot. Each NCO is evaluated on his or her own merits. Also, there are two presentation boards involved. The first is similar to a promotion board, in which Soldiers answer questions during a 30-minute “hot seat” session. The questions range on a variety of military topics for Soldiers to prove they know Army regulations and can display confidence and leadership in person.
The second board is much more in-depth. Instead of being a half-an-hour long, it can last 90 minutes or more. During this phase, Soldiers don’t just spitball short answers, but actually process and talk through difficult scenarios. This proves they know the answers to complex problems they might face as leaders during their military careers.
When Snow competed for the award, he answered how he might help a Soldier struggling with his finances, for example.
“The purpose of it was to demonstrate that you actually know the material, so that’s how you would handle a Soldier in real life,” said Snow.
The 200th MP Command is still ironing out details to host the boards, but soon they will begin accepting applications.
The club recognizes NCOs who exemplify leadership through a committed concern for the needs of their Soldiers and their families. The club is named after America’s most decorated combat Soldier of World War II, who later became a movie star. Soldiers who want to compete for this award must be nominated by their NCO chain of command.
“You can only earn the Sgt. Audie Murphy award one time. For me, that was a lifetime achievement. I’m very proud to have that,” said Snow.
Soldiers nominated for the award need to be in good standings administratively, be able to pass the Army’s physical fitness standards, be qualified on their assigned weapon, and be without any negative blemishes on their record. The command will push a notification requesting nominations through official channels soon.
But beyond being able to meet those basic standards, candidates must be Soldiers of great character, much like the club’s namesake.
“When we think of it, the NCO’s role is really about selfless service. You’re not necessarily doing it for yourself. You’re doing it for your Soldiers,” said Snow, also mentioning that Soldiers who earn membership into this club are those who display the Warrior Ethos, a core characteristic displayed by Audie Murphy himself.
“‘I will never quit. I will always place the mission first,’ he showed that. ‘I will never leave a fallen comrade’ … Those things are really what exemplified (Murphy’s) life and through his career, and even after the military,” said Snow.
The screening process is expected to begin in early 2019, followed by various phases of competition, including the presentation boards sometime later in the year.
“We ask all leaders to look within your formations and nominate your best NCOs. You know who they are. They are men and women who prepare themselves and all others to be ready for war. They make our units shine, and they deserve a chance to compete in one of the Army’s most prestigious awards,” said Owens.