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DVIDS – News – Sgt. Audie Murphy Club Award Presented to TAE NCO

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Master Sgt. Mitchell Willyard, a U.S. Army Soldier deployed to support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division Expeditionary District, was inducted into the U.S. Army Central Command chapter of the prestigious Sgt. Audie Murphy Club, at the base theater at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Jan. 30, 2022.

Willyard, a native of Lebanon, Illinois, joined the Army Reserves right out of high school in 2012. Although military service is not a family tradition, factors like living near an Army base in the air and observing the larger-than-life personality in a family friend who worked in Army military intelligence prompted Willyard to join the Army.

Since then, Willyard has served as a reserve in drill status for four years and then served in the Active/Guard Reserve program for another four and a half years.

“I grew up near Scott Air Force Base in Illinois and always wanted to join the military,” he said. “I also saw it as a way to pay for my education while growing and challenging myself.”

Over the years, he has held many different positions in human resources, often with duties well above his rank.

In early 2021, based on a recommendation from one of his mentors, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Johnny Johnson, he volunteered to deploy as a Personnel Administration NCO for Camp Arifjan Expeditionary District.

For a non-commissioned officer like Willyard, being a reservist and moving frequently to units that have short-term vacancies to fill, it is often difficult to be considered a candidate for the award. In this case, her persistence, timing, and hard work played a key role in her chance of being inducted.

“When I arrived at Camp Arifjan in August 2021, I actually saw a flyer for the club in the dining room and reached out to start the process,” Willyard said. “Once Sgt. Major Tomagan signed my letter of recommendation. I began the lengthy study and preliminary process that involved going to club meetings, completing study and volunteer hours, pass the army combat aptitude test.

Willyard also had to demonstrate warrior duties and combat drills, the ability to instruct a class, and go through two preliminary selection boards.

“Audie Murphy was a strong sergeant and strong sergeants make strong soldiers,” said the event’s guest speaker, Command Sgt. Maj. Jacinto Garza, who traveled from USARCENT Headquarters at Shaw Air Force Base, SC “Staff Sgt. Willyard’s induction in the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club clearly strengthens our NCO Corps and our Army !”

Alright, Sergeant. Major Jun Tomagan, the senior enlisted adviser to the Expeditionary District, was proud that Willyard entered the unit and exceeded those standards since his arrival.

“As Audie Murphy once said, ‘You lead from the front,’ and that’s Staff Sgt. Willyard,” Tomagan said. “I’m honored and grateful to have a very hungry professional chef who is in our expeditionary district.”

If Willyard hadn’t volunteered to deploy, he might never have had the opportunity to find himself in front of the USARCENT Sgt. Board of Audie Murphy, led by 1st Theater Sustainment Command Command Sgt. Major Michael Perry.

The award, based on the exploits of Audie Leon Murphy, son of poor Texas sharecroppers who achieved national fame as the most decorated American combat soldier of World War II, is one of the most prestigious awards for army soldiers with less than two percent who exceed the standards and are selected.

Willyard thanked his father and many mentors and leaders for helping him get to this point in his career.

“I would really like to thank Sgt. 1st Class Jarrod Lerch, Chief Warrant Officers Johnny Johnson and Jason Ackles, Captain Michael Moll and his wife Amelia, Major Christopher Rojewski, Colonel John Yorko and the man who raised me, my father, Mark Willyard,” did he declare. “They have all played an important role in my life and I cannot thank them enough for taking an interest in my development, both personally and professionally. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for them, and I hope I made them proud.

Willyard was also recently told that following this deployment, he is expected to prepare for and attend Army Officer Candidate School next year.

“It’s an honor to have him here in the district and I congratulate him because it’s no small achievement, it’s a huge achievement in his career,” said Tomagan. “If he chooses to stay as a non-commissioned officer or if he becomes an officer, I hope he uses it as a learning tool, to keep it in his tool bag and share it with the rest of the force. ”

Editor’s Note: The US Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division Expeditionary District is the primary engineering, design, and construction district for all DoD agencies in Kuwait and the Republic of Iraq. As the newest district in the Transatlantic Division of the Army Corps of Engineers, Expeditionary District employees play a critical role in the readiness of U.S. forces in the region and actively manage construction projects at the support of Operation Spartan Shield and Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.








Date taken: 18.02.2022
Date posted: 27.02.2022 02:08
Story ID: 415378
Location: ARIFJAN CAMP, KW
Hometown: LEBANON, IL, USA





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