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A holiday toy and coat drive for foster children, multiple wreath and flag placements for veterans interred at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery and volunteering for local school and unit functions: These are just a few of the functions member of the Sergeant Audie L. Murphy Club (SAMC), Sgt. Maj. of the Army William O. Woolridge Chapter, have undertaken over the past year.
In recognition of their contributions to the community, William Beaumont Army Medical Center dedicated one of its most utilized meeting areas as the Sergeant Audie L. Murphy Conference Room, March 31.
The conference room is located in a high-traffic area in the hospital and now prominently displays its title overhead with a portrait its namesake placed outside.
“It means a lot to have the conference room dedicated to Murphy,” said Sgt. 1st Class Julian Chaparro, president of the WBAMC SAMC chapter. “The dedication adds more value to the club.”
Murphy, one of the most decorated service members in United States military history, enlisted in the Army at an early age and participated in major campaigns across Europe during World War II. His actions during the conflicts earned him various medals for valor including the Medal of Honor.
According to the club’s website, in 1986 various SAMC chapters were formed for enlisted noncommissioned officers (NCOs) who exemplified leadership characterized by personal concern for the needs, training, development, and welfare of Soldiers and concern for families of Soldiers. In addition to the moral and ethical requirements for membership, Soldiers must also be nominated and have a rank of corporal through sergeant first class, pass local and regional oral boards, written exams and score high on a physical fitness test.
“SAMC is a means of recognizing those NCOs who have contributed significantly to the development of a professional NCO Corps and a combat ready Army,” said Chaparro, a native of Phoenix. “Most chapters have a club house but we opted for a conference room that we could reserve for our use yet not take away from the hospital.”
While WBAMC has had a SAMC chapter at the hospital since at least 2002, it wasn’t until last year that the club christened the chapter to distinguish it from others in the region. William O. Woolridge, the first-ever Sergeant Major of the Army, spent a great deal of his life developing NCOs professionally, paving the way for future career development institutions such as the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss. In 2012, 89-year-old Woolridge passed away at WBAMC.
“We needed to continue in the direction (the chapter’s naming) set us on and put the (SAMC) name on something,” said Chaparro. “We were overwhelmed with excitement (after dedicating the conference room to Murphy). We knew we had to make it special. I hope that’s what we did.”