FORT MEADE, Md. –
“The Sergeant Audie Murphy program is a means of recognizing those NCOs who have contributed significantly to the development of a professional NCO Corps and combat-ready Army,” said Sgt. 1st Class Donald Snow, 200th Military Police Command.
Historically, the Army Reserve has had fewer sergeants take part in the Sergeant Audie Murphy program, and the 200th MP Command is trying to change that, Snow said.
“A group of highly professional NCOs can assist the command sergeants major from all levels,” he said.
Sgt. Collin George, a Military Policeman with 102nd Military Police Company, 327th Military Police Battalion, 300th Military Police Brigade, 200th Military Police Command in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, was one of the candidates for Sergeant Audie Murphy Club induction.
“At first, when I was initially recommended for the board, I definitely stepped back,” George said. “I was honored that my sergeant major even considered me for it.”
Command teams nominate their best noncommissioned officers to a selection board. When the 200th MP Command looked at the logistics of bringing in Reserve Soldiers from across multiple states in a pandemic, senior NCOs like Snow decided that they would have to get creative.
“We have experienced a lot of challenges with COVID-19.” he said. “Traditional training, travel and gatherings have been affected significantly over the past few months. However, a truly amazing opportunity has also become available through technology and communication.”
“We are not changing the board process,” he continued, “only using an effective form of communication.”
For participants, the transition to a virtual board was a big step. The candidates were still physically present with some members of the board, but they had to interact with the rest of the board members via the Commercial Virtual Remote Environment. But the SAMA board is a challenge no matter how it is run.
“I found out at the beginning of this year that they were recommending me,” George said. “I started preparing and studying and there’s, you know, so much to memorize verbatim and to study: The Soldier’s Creed, General Orders, The NCO Creed, Audie Murphy’s bio.”
George had to balance his studying with his normal Reserve duties, civilian employment, and a full-time school schedule, but all of his work paid off when he learned that he was recommended for induction.
“They brought myself and another NCO into a room, and they informed us that we were recommended for the Sergeant Audie Murphy Award. So, it was extremely thrilling to me to see all my work pay off,” he said.
While new tools have allowed the selection board to be effective in a virtual environment, Snow looks forward to when they can meet in person again.
“Hopefully the current situation and restrictions will be lifted and we can hold traditional boards soon,” Snow said. “Keeping our Soldiers and Families safe and healthy is paramount during these times. In the future we know we have this tool available.”
Snow also hopes that they’ll be available to recognize the awardees in person.
“We will try to schedule and host the Sergeant Audie Murphy Induction ceremony,” he said. “We are hoping to be able to do that in a group and in person.”