by Steven Stover

Cyber Soldiers join prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. – Sgt. Maj. Nathaniel Piper, 780th Military Intelligence Brigade (Cyber), and Staff Sgt. Daniel Colón, E Company, 782nd MI Battalion (Cyber), were recently inducted into the prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club (SAMC) in a ceremony at the Army Reserve Center on March 19.

According to U.S. Army Forces Command regulation 600-80-1, the Sergeant Audie Murphy Award (SAMA) is an “elite award for Noncommissioned Officers (NCOs) whose leadership achievements and performance merit special recognition. The SAMA is a means of recognizing those NCOs who have contributed significantly to the development of a professional NCO Corps and a combat ready Army. Awardees exemplify leadership, characterized by personal concern for the needs, training, development and welfare of Soldiers, and concern for families of Soldiers.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Jebin Heyse, the senior enlisted leader for the Cyber National Mission Force, U.S. Cyber Command, was the event’s guest speaker. Heyse is a 2004 SAMA recipient and spoke about the SAMC journey and what makes a “great noncommissioned officer, not a good noncommissioned officer, a great noncommissioned officer”.

“A few words come to mind to describe this (SAMC) endeavor – grit, determination, pursuit of excellence, luck, teamwork, and I think most importantly, mentorship. A current and reinforcing example of all that is good in a professional noncommissioned officer in our Army today,” said Heyse.

Heyse said that an “NCO isn’t born… No one comes into the Army ready to lead and train Soldier, they are taught how to do it.”

Sgt. 1st Class Prince Yohannes, the Fort George G. Meade SAMC lead, and a cyberspace operations NCO assigned to B Company, 781st MI Battalion, was Staff Sgt. Colón’s sponsor for the final Phase III (MDW) board and discussed the SAMA process and requirements.

“You must be nominated by your chain of command and earn the award by going on a journey to find out who you are as a leader and build upon that to become an even greater leader for the Soldiers, Army Civilians, and your organization,” said. “You must currently meet the black standard in each event for the Army Combat Fitness Test, pass a written test, write an essay, and go to levels one to three boards.”

Colón, a cyberspace operations NCO, said that although he has attended nearly 30 boards in his previous six years of Army service – Sergeant and Staff Sergeant Promotion Boards, Soldier/NCO of the Month and Quarter Boards, and Best Warrior Competitions – to prepare for the three-level boards under the SAMA, he spent every available moment in the past year studying and attending study hall sessions.

“I read through endless regulations and would engage with the Non-Commissioned Officers in my company to discuss their respective additional duties and Army Programs in depth,” said Colón. “I would study during lunch, before and after work, and throughout the weekends trying to refine my knowledge for the SAMA process.”

Colón said he believes in everything the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club stands for and plans to use what he has learned and what he will continue to learn as a SAMC member to improve himself and grow as leader in order to better serve his unit and his Soldiers.

“The SAMA process is extremely challenging and extremely time consuming. I wanted to prove to myself that I could accomplish this goal while still maintaining all my other priorities: graduate school, mission, my Soldiers, my additional duties, etcetera,” said Colón. “Although it is a prestigious award, I was more focused on the professional and leader development, rather than the award itself.”

Although Colón has achieved this career goal, there are future challenges ahead for this cyber NCO.

“I will use my experience with boards to prepare other Soldiers for the board process, including the promotion board. I hope to mentor and prepare other Noncommissioned Officers to appear before the SAMA Board,” added Colón. “Although I told myself the SAMA Boards would be my absolute last, I still want to challenge myself. I currently have my eyes set on the 2021 Best Warrior Competition!”

Colón, recently earned the honor of being selected as the Best Warrior NCO for the 782nd MI Battalion and will next compete at the brigade-level.

Sgt. Maj. Piper, the 780th MI Brigade S-3 (operations) senior NCO, received an Honorary Sergeant Audie Murphy Award during the March 19 ceremony. Yohannes describes Piper as a “servant leader.”

“He gives his intention backing them with genuine and sincere actions,” said Yohannes. “We are leaders in the business of taking care of people first, and SGM Piper has taken care of all of us and we appreciate it 100 percent and therefore we selected him for be a recipient of the SAMA.”

Piper gave this advice to current and future NCOs.

“Don’t prepare for your next position,” said Piper. “Be ready to take on the responsibility when called upon.”

Brigade Soldiers interested in earning the Sergeant Audie Murphy should talk to their unit first sergeant or reach out to Sgt. 1st Class Yohannes or Staff Sgt. Colón.