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Thursday, June 21, 2012


An honor guard soldier places a wreath next to the grave of Medal of Honor recipient Army Maj. Audie L. Murphy as Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, far left, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Military District of Washington chapter of the Sgt. Audie L. Murphy Club, pay tribute on the World War II hero's birthday at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., June 20, 2012. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.  

Senior Enlisted Leader, Namesake Club Honor Audie Murphy
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
ARLINGTON, Va., June 21, 2012 - The military's top enlisted member joined a local chapter of the Sgt. Audie L. Murphy Club here yesterday in honoring the club's namesake on his birthday.
Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined the Military District of Washington Sergeant Audie L. Murphy Club in a wreath-laying ceremony to pay tribute to the American war hero, a Medal of Honor recipient, who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

"Eighty-eight years ago today," Battaglia said at the event, "we see a young man like Audie Leon Murphy who would become such a great American hero ... through his life – especially the life he served protecting our nation. [It's] quite impressive."

Battaglia noted that Murphy attained the rank of staff sergeant just a year and a half after joining the Army. He received a battlefield commission in October 1944, and rose to the rank of major.

"[But] Sergeant Audie Murphy wasn't someone about awards," Battaglia said. "He was about taking care of his men and women and getting the mission accomplished. And that's why I say ... it's befitting of me to ... recognize Sergeant Audie Murphy on his birthday, a very monumental date in the history of our ... armed forces. But [I'm also here to] thank the members of his club and the loyal and dedicated soldiers that continue to serve honorably and with distinguished contributions and volunteerism throughout their communities and neighborhoods."

Battaglia was joined by Army Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Taylor, president of the local chapter, who serves in the Office of the Secretary of Defense Mess.

"It is my honor today to honor the leader of our charge in the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club – Audie Leon Murphy," she said. "Today would be his 88th birthday. We welcome you all."
Other club members played prominent roles during the ceremony, including treasurer Army Staff Sgt. Tanner Welch, who recited Murphy's biography.

"Audie Murphy was killed in a plane crash on a mountain top in Roanoke, Va., May 28, 1971," Welch said. "Fittingly, his body was recovered two days later on Memorial Day."
"Audie may have been the last American war hero," he added. "He was the best combat soldier in the 200-plus year history of the United States."

Battaglia said Audie Murphy is buried next to "thousands and thousands of great American service men and women," but is special in his own right.

"I think his service in the Army goes beyond just that in the Army," he said after the ceremony, reflecting on what he has read about Murphy. "I'd like it to resonate throughout all the services. He wasn't worried about awards and decorations. The man was there to accomplish a mission, he was there to protect his country, and he was there to protect his men and women. And that's all he really cared about."

Club member Army Master Sgt. Flora McKnight, operations officer for the Military District of Washington, agreed with the sergeant major.

"We do this in order to honor Sergeant Audie Murphy," she said. "Through his abilities as a noncommissioned officer, he took care of soldiers, and that's what we do – we take care of soldiers and give back to the community.

"Through selflessness ... we have an opportunity to give back to others and to show others the correct way doing that," McKnight continued. "The selflessness comes from us giving back to our community – not only the military community, but our civilian community -- because we all form a bond."

Battaglia noted a personal connection. He served a year-long deployment in Iraq, starting in February 2007, with one of the 3rd Infantry Division brigades to which Murphy was assigned.

"He set a legacy that carries on today. ... I think all of our service members, not just soldiers ... can use Audie Murphy as an example to emulate," Battaglia said.