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NEWS | May 17, 2021

Camp Arifjan Sgt. Audie Murphy Club inducts combat medic

By Staff Sgt. Neil W. McCabe 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command

The Sgt. Audie Murphy Club of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command and U.S. Army Central inducted a new member at a May 10 ceremony held at the Area Support Group-Kuwait headquarters here.

Staff Sgt. Kenji Motonaga, a combat medic and noncommissioned officer in charge of the Troop Medical Clinic, was selected to join based on his performance during the SAMC board.

"This was something that I did want," said the Lakewood, Washington, native, who leaves Kuwait soon to attend the drill instructor course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. "I had the drive and the determination, which is all it really takes to get what you want in life."

The Sgt. Audie Murphy Club began in 1986 at Fort Hood, Texas, the home of III Corps, with the support of the corps commander and command sergeant major, as an elite organization for noncommissioned officers. The club was dedicated to the ideals of Maj. Audie Murphy, who served as an NCO during the Second World War, before his battlefield commission.

Members of the club are supposed to follow Murphy's example of leading from the front and taking care of Soldiers. Murphy was also the most decorated Soldier in American history, in addition to his Medal of Honor, his decorations included, the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts.

In 1991, the SAMC was opened up to all Soldiers in III Corps beyond Fort Hood.

In 1994, at a Sergeant Major of the Army conference, SAMC was opened up to all NCOs Army-wide.

"My advice for anyone who wants to try out for the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club--for all my Soldiers--anything you put your mind to doing, you can accomplish," Kenji said.

Command Sgt. Maj. Keith A. Gwin, who is the senior enlisted advisor to the 1st TSC deputy commanding general and guest speaker for the ceremony, told Motonaga and the attendees that there are things about him he already knows, just because he is now a SAMC member.

"He is a leader who cares about taking care of Soldiers, who is about upholding standards, who accepted the risk of putting himself out there to compete for an opportunity to get into the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club," he said.

Gwin said directly to Motonaga that he had some good news and bad news for him.

"The bad news is it's a very turbulent time in the Army right now--a lot of change," he said. "You have to dedicate a lot of time and effort to stay up with the changes in doctrine, changes in policy, and making sure--if you are going to be an effective leader, an effective NCO, you have to put effort into doing that."

Gwin, who is also the command sergeant major for the Indianapolis-based 310th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), then said: "The good news is you live in a turbulent time and a time of change, and you get to be one of the people who drive that change."

Area Support Group-Kuwait Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1st Sgt. Kimberly Goode joined Gwin as the two presented Motonaga his SAMC medallion with its light blue sash ribbon, as well as his glass plaque and Army Commendation Medal.

Goode, who is the senior enlisted advisor to the 1st TSC-ASG-Kuwait SAMC, said she is proud of being Motogana's sponsor.

"The Sgt. Audie Murphy Club is not about pressing--you can't make someone do something, but as an NCO and as a member, sometimes you just recognize that innate, just natural leadership in an NCO," the native of the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York, said.

The first sergeant said her way of motivating people to compete for the chance to be in the SAMC is to start to talk about the club with a prospective candidate.

"You just say: 'Hey, there's this organization that allows you to give back, not only to the Army, but to Soldiers and I think you'd make a great member," she said. "Then, it's really up to the Soldier."

Area Support Group - Kuwait Command Sergeant Major Brian M. Disque said he was honored to be a part of Motogana's induction.

"Participating in the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club gives our NCOs a chance to enhance their professional, tactical, and technical knowledge and ability to care for Soldiers," he said. "The ability to do things while deployed gives Soldiers something to strive for."

"What's difficult about it is that it requires a lot of commitment, not only do you have to be an expert on the policies and regulations, but you also have to know how to apply it," he said. "If you don't understand the policies and regulations, then the actions you're taking may or may not be consistent with what the Army's trying to tell you."

Disque said one thing that makes the SAMC an elite organization is the three boards, battalion, brigade and installation, a candidate must pass before they can be selected, but that does not take into account the mock boards the candidates go through to prepare for the actual boards.

"It is not uncommon to go through five to 10 boards, but there are three that count," the command sergeant major said.

"I joined the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club in 2007, and I joined because a leader encouraged me to do it," he said. "Having encouragement and support from my leader--who also told me he would sponsor me… meant a lot to me."

Another speaker at the ceremony was Sgt. Rebecca Worthy, who is also a medic at the Troop Medical Clinic.

Worthy said she was an eyewitness to Motonaga's concern for Soldiers and willingness to set the example by leading from the front.

The medic said Motonaga was her supervisor and that he mentored her to compete for the NCO of the Quarter competition and coached her preparations for the Norwegian Foot March, which she successfully completed under the time limit.

"I couldn't be more happy, and have such a sense of pride--knowing that he is my NCO and he has done so much to earn the medallion that he will be getting today," the San Andreas, California, native said.

"That is why Staff Sergeant Motonaga is my Sgt. Audie Murphy."