Achieving Sergeant Audie Murphy Club Induction
by U.S. Army Terrance Bell, Fort Lee Public Affairs
August 1, 2020
Successful senior Soldiers say it’s never too late to make a statement, reawaken one’s will through self-challenge or demonstrate a continuous pursuit of excellence.
All were achieved by Master Sgt. Sidney F. Babineaux Jr., who at 20 years of service and 39 years old ... endured a near yearlong battle with the books to become the latest member of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club via its Fort Lee chapter. He was inducted during a June 17, 2020 ceremony at Fort Lee, Virgina.
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Sidney Babineaux at an undisclosed location on July 1, 2020 was inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club recently. He is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, CASCOM at Fort Lee, Virginia. (U.S. Army photo by Terrance Bell, Fort Lee Public Affairs)
“It is a high honor,” said the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, CASCOM, Soldier. “The Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is an elite group of noncommissioned officers. … It is humbling to be an inductee.”
SAMC, established 24 years ago, is a service-based leadership organization created to “develop, inspire and motivate the best leaders” in the Army, according to its website. Only 2 percent of NCOs can claim membership, which is accomplished through a series of board appearances before senior enlisted members.
Inductees are distinguished by the club’s large metallic medallions suspended by broad powder-blue ribbons draped around their necks. They are only worn during official events.
Babineaux, who is the operations NCO in the Office of the Quartermaster General, has had brushes with membership going back a few years. The first was a failed attempt as a drill sergeant at Fort Benning, Ga. He desired to try again at Fort Hood, Texas, but his promotable status as a sergeant first class made him ineligible.
A rule change allowed master sergeants to become members a few years ago. By then, Babineaux was on his second stint as a first sergeant, this time within the QM School’s 262nd QM Battalion. He still wanted a second shot – not so much for personal gain, but because he felt like the medallion would add clout to discussions with Soldiers about self-improvement.
“The thing for me is if I’m going to promote something or encourage my Soldiers to go there, and I’m able to be a part of it, why wouldn’t I do it if the opportunity was there? It’s about empathy. It’s hard for me to know what that person will go through or has been through if I haven’t been there myself.”
Babineaux began his SAMC membership mission in February 2019. He had convinced a few 262nd QM Bn., drill sergeants and others to join him. The road to earning a medallion, however, is not a stretch of smooth concrete but more like a bumpy, winding mountain passage fraught with difficulty. By the time he went before the battalion board in July, his mission mates had peeled off, leaving him to pursue membership alone. Undeterred, the water treatment specialist passed the brigade board in November. Babineaux then met his greatest challenge at CASCOM where he failed to receive a positive nod.
“It was a hard pill to swallow,” said the Houston native. “From my perspective, I hit all the key points I was told I needed to hit. ... It hurt me a little bit, and I had to pull back inside and figure out if I wanted to continue.”
At the time, Babineaux had 19 years of service, a wife and two toddlers at home, and plenty enough on his duty assignment dinner plate. Nonetheless, he decided he had come too far to turn back and trudged on; this time with a sponsor, which he did not have before. MSG DeVon A. McGibbon, an Ordnance School senior instructor, was impressed with his enthusiasm and decided to help him move the needle.
“I started studying with him and realized he was truly passionate about making others around him better,” McGibbon said. “He had issues with expressing that passion in a manner others could understand.”
When March rolled around, Babineaux was armed with new tools of expression and ready for redemption. On the day of the board, he was questioned for two hours by SAMC members including Command Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Perry III, CASCOM CSM. Babineaux emerged victorious and surprisingly unfazed.
“I didn’t feel anything initially, but as I thought about it over time, I started to feel like I was able to get another goal accomplished.”
McGibbon, who attended the induction ceremony, was equally succinct about the Babineaux’s achievement.
“I think it is well-deserved. He did what he needed to do to earn it,” McGibbon said. “The club is better having a member like him in the ranks.”
Babineaux’s SAMC induction is eons away from his days as a young Soldier, a time when he lacked commitment to the institution. At one point, he was disciplined for substance abuse, an incident that could have ended his career. His NCO supervisors, however, believed it was an isolated event and pushed him to correct and align. He did, even in the face of heavy peer pressure back home and in the barracks. In retrospect, Babineaux said he would not change anything about those early days.
“I see it as a road I had to travel,” said the Soldier who rededicated himself to faith after his early brush with the law. “I’m glad I went through it because if I hadn’t, I couldn’t empathize with someone who has. So, whenever a Soldier is going through something – whether it is an Article 15 or whatever – I can empathize with them because I’ve been there.”
As a SAMC member, Babineaux can feel comfortable encouraging Soldiers to excel. He has the battle scars and medal that speak authoritatively.
“Being a part of this club, I now have the ability to push for future candidates,” Babineaux confirmed. “In the past, I would say to Soldiers, ‘You need to be Audie Murphy,’ and the question they usually responded with is, ‘Are you Audie Murphy?’ The answer would be, ‘No,’ and then I would have to explain why. Then they’d ask, ‘Well, why should I go? You didn’t.’
“Now, it’s a different process because when people ask if I’m Audie Murphy, I can tell them, ‘Yes.’ Now, I’m able to push for the program even more.”
With the Audie Murphy medallion firmly hanging from his neck, Babineaux said he is looking for the next challenge to test his moxie and to make those around him better.
“I want to be the example; that I’ll go to the fence line. … I want to continue to the very last day pushing as hard as I can.”
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