Fort Lee NCO inducted into Audie Murphy Club

A smiling Staff Sgt. Joel Demillo and his wife, Sgt. Marisol Demillo, pose for pictures after he was inducted into the ranks of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club during a ceremony July 25 in the PWD auditorium. Demillo, a two-time CASCOM Noncommissioned Officer of the Year winner, is a 91B wheeled vehicle mechanic who hails from Victorville, Calif.

FORT LEE, Va. – The holder of two consecutive CASCOM Noncommissioned Officer of the Year titles here has achieved another feat.

Staff Sgt. Joel Demillo is only the second post Soldier this year to earn entry into the Army’s prestigious Sergeant Audie Murphy Club. His achievement was celebrated at a July 25 induction ceremony in the Petroleum and Water Department’s Guest Auditorium.

Among those in attendance at the formalities were Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Perry III, CASCOM CSM; 1st Sgt. Juan Mendoza, SAMC Fort Lee Chapter president; and 1st Sgt. Carlandra Moss, Demillo’s sponsor and first sergeant, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, CASCOM.

The guest speaker was CSM Terry D. Burton, the 13th Ordnance Corps CSM.

Demillo, Perry’s executive assistant, said he began preparations for the SAMC board almost immediately after winning his first NCOY title in 2017.

“Being inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is an honor,” said the 28 year-old, “and going through the process is an incredible experience.”

SAMC, established in 1986, is a service-based leadership organization.  Only about 2 percent of all Army NCOS can claim membership, according to the organization’s website. Members are known for wearing the club’s distinctive medallions suspended by broad powder-blue ribbons during official events. 

Decorum aside, Demillo, said SAMC’s appeal to him concerns leadership.

“It’s not about the medallion or looking good in front of others,” he said. “It’s about taking care of Soldiers, volunteering in the community, and, at the end of the day, making the NCO Corps better. That’s why I wanted to be a Sergeant Audie Murphy Club member.”

Burton, who like Demillo was initially trained as a 91B wheeled vehicle mechanic, used his time at the lectern to convey to a small audience the significance of becoming part of an exclusive club. Citing the fable of the Eagle and Chicken and describing how the eagle thought of himself as a chicken because he was raised as such, Burton reasoned achievement is only limited by thought.

“What the eagle thought about himself completely controlled his potential and accomplishments,” said Burton during his remarks. The CSM then highlighted Demillo’s achievements – distinguished honor graduate, Air Assault School; distinguished honor grad, Senior Leader Course; distinguished leader award, Basic Leader Course; Logistics NCO Academy instructor; Order of Samuel Sharp Award winner; VFW and ROTC volunteer; and husband to Sgt. Marisol Demillo – and concluded the inductee is flying “high above the skies” of his peers.

“What you’ve done so far in your 11 years is a reflection that you are an American eagle,” said Burton. “You’re part of what is known as the ‘Backbone of the Army,’ the strongest Army of any army there is in the world. You are full of potential. You are a divine leader. You have a purpose locked inside you that no one else can match.”

That is a fact that is not lost on fellow member Moss, who said Demillo somehow managed to juggle his CSM duties and SAMC ambition – a difficult feat for most Soldiers.

“He spent time (studying) whenever CSM Perry was out of his office or TDY,” said Moss, who introduced Demillo to the audience. “That was the only time he had downtime, and he spent it studying. … It’s just a testament of who he is; how disciplined he is and his motivation and determination.”

Perry said he is proud of Demillo on an individual level and echoed the California-born Soldier’s sentiment about the substance of club membership.

“What I’ve always said is that it’s not about the medallion but about the qualities and commitment leaders demonstrate day-in and day-out,” Perry said. “Yes, they go through a process, but SSG Demillo – not only in the year I’ve known him but throughout his entire career – has always pursued and attained excellence. His induction today is just another example of that.”

Sgt. Audie Leon Murphy (he later attained the rank of major in the U.S. Army Reserve) was one of the Army’s most decorated Soldiers. The former infantryman earned several awards including the Medal of Honor for his dedicated and heroic service during World War II. He is also known as a movie star, singer and for his work supporting veterans. Murphy died on Memorial Day, 1971.

Those seeking membership in the exclusive SAMC are nominated and required to demonstrate leadership, professionalism and overall general military knowledge, the latter gauged during a series board appearances.

For more information about the club and its community events, contact Mendoza at 804-765-8824.