Candidate sponsor Master Sgt. Willie Brooks, 1st Battalion (Training Support), 337th Aviation Regiment, 166th Aviation Brigade, looks on as his candidate, Sgt. 1st Class David Barnes, answers board questions during the brigade’s Sergeant Audie Murphy Award Board. The brigade was the only unit in Division West to send candidates to the Division’s inaugural SAMA Board.

Capt. Tania Hummel | U.S. Army

The 166th Aviation Brigade held the first Sergeant Audie Murphy Club selection board March 22 for Division West’s inaugural Sergeant Audie Murphy Award.

Murphy, the Army’s most decorated soldier, climbed through the Army’s enlisted and officer ranks during World War II, earning every award available, including the Medal of Honor.

Club membership distinction is awarded to sergeants through sergeants first class annually. Nominations and boards begin at the battalion level, with all qualified soldiers proceeding to their brigade boards.

When Division West’s Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick K. Akuna Jr. proposed the idea of a Audie Murphy club selection board four months ago, 166th’s Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Vela jumped at the opportunity.

“It’s a very prestigious club,” said Vela, “It epitomizes the total soldier; they made this as a model to be like Audie Murphy.”

Being a member of the club is an enormous honor for any noncommissioned officer.

“Being inducted into the (club) distinguishes you from amongst your peers; the best of the best NCOs,” said Sgt. 1st Class Randall Copiskey, who earned his membership during 2011, and one of two boards members who are club inductees.

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