News 12 at 11 o'clock, September 7, 2010
FORT GORDON, Ga. -- It is the highest peacetime honor for a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army and only a few enlisted soldiers ever receive the award. The latest Sergeant Audie Murphy Award winner at Fort Gordon is a trailblazer for many reasons, among them - being selected as the first Army Reserve Soldier to get the award there.
As Sergeant First Class Shirlene Olson listens to Fort Gordon's Post Command Sergeant Major Thomas Clark on Thursday afternoon, she is all about business. As the latest inductee into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, her picture hangs on the wall in the Signal Tower alongside the other elite members. It is on display for all to see when entering the building. She shared her keys to success in being a strong soldier. Her advice is simple.
"Be willing to listen and learn," said Olson. "Listen more than you talk."
"I've known her for over 20 years, so I absolutely know that this is the right selection for our Army," said Command Sergeant Clark. "This award is designated for the top 1 percent of non-commissioned officers in our Army."
Fort Gordon's Post Command Sergeant Major Thomas Clark further explained the significance of the award and why Sergeant First Class Olson was selected. He said her character, her history and her dedication to helping other soldiers is what sets her apart. Having known her for the bulk of her career, he says the decision was simple.
"I sat on the board and I watched her come in that day and I reflected on those 20 years of her not only being an excellent soldier, but mother, wife, and representative for our country,"added Clark.
Pleasant and extremely professional, Sergeant First Class Olson's demeanor is unmistakeably "lead by example." Not wanting to be the center of attention, when discussing the award, she deflects the credit from herself and quickly shifts the focus on the mission of the award.
"The Sergeant Audie Murphy Organization is about selfless service -- that's what you get recognized for," said Olson. " It means taking care of others. My mission was taking care of the soldiers."
Olson is the first Army Reserve Soldier at Fort Gordon to receive the award. She's a member of the 100th Division, 80th Training Command. She says whether it's areserve or active duty soldier, her goal is to teach them all to be the best.
"The old concept of one weekend out of a whole month, two weeks out of the year, believe me that transition has left since 2004 and it's being a soldier 24-7 now," said Olson.
As an instructor at Fort Gordon, Olson is a mobilized Army Reserve Soldier. She says that her unit supports her one hundred percent in her endeavors and without them, the award would not have been possible.
"Under the 100th division, the 3/108th made it possible for me to be able to serve," added Olson. "I am so thankful to them for always supporting me. The 100th division consisted of soldiers, instructors and personnel who train above and beyond the standards. That's important."
Sergeant First Class Olson is exactly what the United States Army wants all its soldiers to be warriors possessing stellar leadership and Army values. Command Sergeant Major Clark says others have quite the challenge to live up to if they want to follow in her foot steps.
"She's a role model for everyone," said Clark. "People around the world that know about this organization recognize you as the best of the best. She is an inspiration to so many. They can say, Sergeant First Class Olson did it, I'd like to do it too."
Sergeant Olson is also currently completing her Masters Degree and when she retires from the military, she wants to continue serving in some capacity once she's done. For now, she says she will continue to concentrate on doing what she does best -- helping other soldiers reach their potential.
I'd be more than glad to help anyone who is willing to take on this path,"said Olson. "My message to the 100th and the 80th soldiers is this. Always remember that we do in fact count in our missions and skills and we constantly have to make our performances count. "We have to constantly excel. We can't stop."
The Sergeant Audie Murphy award is named in honor of the late Audie Leon Murphy, who is America's most decorated soldier during World War II. The Sergeant Audie Murphy Club was started in 1986 at Fort Hood,Texas to recognize non-commissioned officers for integrity, professionalism and commitment to mentoring soldiers. The recognition has since spread to other military posts. There are currently close to 100 members at Fort Gordon.