Fort Detrick Sgt. Audie Murphy Club Welcomes New Inductees
The Fort Detrick chapter of the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club inducted its two newest members during a ceremony held at the Community Activities Center Feb. 22. Sharing the honors of induction at this event were Staff. Sgt. Patrick Omara and Staff Sgt. LaDonna Tolbert, both from Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Md., a subcommand of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. Upon nomination by leadership, the candidates progressed through a series of review boards at various levels before advancing to the final review board, comprised of senior sergeant majors, who posed questions from subjects that include military leadership, counseling, weapons, world affairs/current events, and military programs. The final review panel was led by Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin B. Stuart, USAMRMC command sergeant major and SAMC-Fort Detrick board president.
"These two Soldiers being inducted today are stellar performers and outstanding NCOs [Non-Ccommissioned Officers]," said Stuart. "Even beyond their induction into the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, they have continually led their respective sections to great success, mentoring and training their Soldiers, and teaching them what it means to be professional and to be proficient in their skills."
Stuart said that induction into the SAMC remains very limited, as less than 2 percent of all Army NCOs comprise the entire club membership throughout the world.
The guest speaker for the ceremony was Sgt. Maj. Kevin E. McCrary, Army Chief Information Officer, who serves as the Army's CIO personal adviser on all enlisted matters in areas related to Information Technology. McCrary's primary message throughout his speech was maintaining leadership support of all Soldiers, on and off the battlefield. In particular, McCrary spoke of the importance of the officer/NCO relationship within the Army.
"There is nothing more exciting than to see the non-commissioned officer and the officer bond as one, based upon values, ethics, and ideals," said McCrary. "What this shows is that it is more important than ourselves â€" everything that those two do together is about the Soldier."
Upon completion of McCrary's speech, the spotlight was then turned onto the two Soldiers being honored for their outstanding leadership skills and community service.
A 68K medical laboratory technician, Omara entered the U.S. Army in January 2007, and completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Organizational Management from Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tenn. His current duty assignment is Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge of the Viral Diseases Branch at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md. He is a graduate of the Army's Warrior Leadership course and the Advanced Leadership course. Omara has been a member of the WRAIR Color Guard Team, WRAIR Unit Men's Basketball team, and served as the Department of Biochemistry CFC coordinator in 2008. Among his other honors, Omara has been recognized as 2009 WRAIR Soldier of the Year, 2009 Fort Detrick Installation Soldier of the Year, and 2010 WRAIR NCO of the Year. He is a Level 1 Combatives Instructor and a current Equal Opportunity Representative for his unit, assisting the commander with the EO program and conducting EO training at various levels. Omara's current awards include three Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, and two Good Conduct Medals.
Joining the Army in March 2007, Tolbert attended basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and was enrolled in the 68K medical laboratory specialist course where she completed Phase I at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Phase II at Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, and was the class honor graduate. Upon graduation, she obtained an Associate of Science degree in Clinical Laboratory Science from George Washington University. Currently assigned as the NCOIC of the Division of Experimental Therapeutics at WRAIR, Tolbert has worked on various research projects and has seen publication of two research articles in the Clinical Journal of Microbiology and the Malaria Journal. She has held several duty positions including Unit Primary Equal Opportunity Leader, Unit Prevention Leader, Billing official, and Division Fire Warden, and she has completed the Warrior Leadership course, Advanced Leadership course, Combat Life Savers course, Combatives Levels One and Two, and the Commander's Total Fitness course. Among Tolbert's awards are the Army Commendation Medal (2OLC), Army Achievement Award (7OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. She has been honored as both the Soldier of the Month and the Quarter, and has held the title of WRAIR NCO of the Year for fiscal years 2009 and 2011.
Brig. Gen. (P) Joseph Caravalho, Jr., USAMRMC commanding general, provided the closing speech for those in attendance, and he congratulated the members of the SAMC, as well as all NCOs, past and present, who have served in the Army.
"I've always wanted to be an NCO," said Caravalho. "NCOs in the United States Army are called â€˜the backbone of the Army,' and that really means something. It's not until you deploy downrange that you realize how powerful our Army truly is, because of the strength of our NCOs."
"Today we're honoring two great Americans, two great NCOs," he said. "And as we talk about diversity, this means different perspectives, and different skill sets, that people bring with them to the fight, and this is certainly of high value to our nation."
Well known for his career as a film star in the 1950's and 1960's, Audie Murphy gained notoriety as the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of World War II. Among his 33 awards and decorations, he was given the Medal of Honor, which is the highest military award for bravery bestowed upon any individual in the United States. The legacy left behind by Murphy after serving only three years of active duty in the U.S. Army may never be matched, and this storied heritage remains the foundation of the SAMC since its establishment at Fort Hood, Texas, in 1986.
"Sgt. Audie Murphy was a man who gave a lot of himself, and he devoted much time to the community, which is a primary aspect of this club," said Stuart. "These two outstanding Soldiers, Staff Sgts. Omara and Tolbert, volunteer many off-duty hours to help out others in the community on a regular basis, and they have done this long before their induction into the club. They are role models for both military and civilian personnel."