‘You lead from the front’
The award, which only the top 3 percent of United States military personnel are inducted, was awarded to Sergeant Esther Rorick-Collins.
Collins has served in the United States Army since July of 2003, and currently is a biological sciences non-commissioned officer (NCO) in charge at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md. In her position, Collins said she conducts research, as well as manages and supervises said research, as well as the scheduling of five enlisted junior soldiers, two non-commissioned officers, and 17 civilians.
The Audie Murphy Club organization was “created to develop, inspire, and motivate the best leaders possible in the U.S. Army,” according the club website.
“The original club was started at Fort Hood, Texas, early in 1986,” explained the website. It was named after Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in American history.
The motto of the club is the quote from Murphy, “you lead from the front.”
During what Collins recalls as a “tedious process” to be inducted, she said a soldier must be recognized by their command or an Audie Murphy Club member to be recommended.
Potential members must go through a physical screening, and are questioned about their knowledge and ability to care for soldiers. The potential member is then put through an oral examination that is, according to Collins, all scenario-based and typically takes roughly two hours to complete.
Apotential inductee is also required to volunteer and give back to the community as a civilian and member of the military. One of Collins’ favorite volunteer organizations to work with is “happy holidays,” which provides Thanksgiving meals and holiday gifts for low-income families and children. She also supports her local Special Olympics chapter, as well as various other volunteer opportunities.
Many that submit for the honor do so for the career progression benefits. Collins said she personally saw it as “an opportunity to network, and gain better tools to train and lead my soldiers.”
She explained that a large part of the club is “not always knowing the answer, but being resourceful and going and finding it.”
Even prior to being inducted in the club, Collins said the one thing she tells her soldiers or anyone she comes into contact with is “the most important thing to remember is knowledge is power.”
She explained people can take things away from someone in terms of luxuries, but they cannot take away a person’s knowledge.
“For me, being accepted into the club, or any accomplishment, is definitely something that is self affirming,” said Collins. “For me, the biggest thing is to see what it instills in my soldiers.”
She explained that she can lead by example, which influences her soldiers to do their best as well.
Asoldier under Collins’ command, SPC Elyse Troxell, wrote a letter recommending Collins for the honor. Troxell later won “soldier of the year.”
This helped reaffirm to Collins that her actions can influence others positively.
“My NCO is an example and role model for soldiers of all ranks,” said Troxell in her letter recommending Collins. “She exemplifies what an NCO should be. She does not simply meet the Army standards, she exceeds them.”
Troxell said Collins “sets the bar high” and “goes above and beyond the call of duty and motivates others like myself to do the same.”
Troxell also commended Collins for her superior leadership ability and her sincerity in caring for soldiers.
Some of the top awards Collins has received during her service includes the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease NCO of the Year and “installation” of Fort Detrick.
Collins joined the service because “it was just the idea of serving my county and the opportunities that the military offers, such as education.”
She added that the military gives soldiers a more broad training than a typical 18-or-19 year-old would receive.
For her, Collins said, “it has been a growing and grounding experience.”
She explained that she had several opportunities to grow, see different aspects of life, and to get a different perspective of the world that others may not have. It has also showed her the power of her decisions.
“Overall, it has been a positive experience,” said Collins.
Some of her goals include being promoted and finishing her bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in bio-defense.
She said in terms of goals, it all ties into knowledge, that people should be aware of their goals, have a clear path to them, and not accept someone or something getting the way of achieving them.