Here, There, Everywhere: Churchill Takes Global Approach to Service, Charity
This article represents the latest in a series of personal interest stories designed to spotlight notable people, stories and achievements across the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command. If you would like to recommend a specific Soldier or civilian employee for this series, please contact Ramin A. Khalili, USAMRDC Public Affairs Office Writer, at firstname.lastname@example.org
If the old saying is true — if, indeed, the best way to get something done is to ask a busy person — then you would be wise to contact Command Sergeant Major Rodmond Churchill for help with your specific task as soon as possible. A quick-thinker and a fast-mover, if you catch him during a free moment — which, to be honest, isn't easy — he'll tell you that his brand of nonstop energy is a repayment of sorts for, as he puts it, the best job around.
"My career has been a blessing for me," says Churchill, who's currently posted at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command's Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. "My assignments have been some of the best that anyone could dream of."
Those may sound like generic platitudes — although who could complain about postings in Hawaii and Honduras, among other plum spots — but push past those comments and you'll find a Soldier who has consistently set a high bar for himself at every single stop across his 24-year Army career. It's a rare breed indeed who is constantly looking for ways to better both themselves and their community.
Notably, Churchill's volunteer work with the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club has come to define his service time. A non-profit U.S. Army organization for noncommissioned officers (NCOs), the SAMC — named after decorated World War II Soldier (and eventual Hollywood actor and songwriter) Audie Leon Murphy — is best known for its series of community service projects in the areas surrounding Army posts worldwide. For example, during Churchill's time at Fort Polk, Louisiana (where, naturally, he served as SAMC president), the club routinely volunteered at local nursing homes and — on one occasion — even paired with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity to rebuild part of a local veteran's house. But it was perhaps his charitable work in South Korea, where he volunteered at a local orphanage for abandoned and mentally-challenged children, which left the most striking and indelible impression.
"It was a unique experience," says Churchill. "To spend time with [the children], to do some activities ... they really appreciated that because those individuals were sent to these places and pretty much just forgotten."
Given all that experience, it was only natural that Churchill would be the person tasked with starting USAMRDC's own SAMC chapter once he arrived at WRAIR in late 2020. But before he could book any events or hold any meetings, he first had to clear the effort through Army Futures Command, which — as it turns out — didn't yet have the regulatory infrastructure to provide for an SAMC. That's when Churchill, a surgical technician by trade, donned his lawyer cap and got to work. In short order, he developed new regulations for USAMRDC based on SAMC efforts at other Army Commands, revised them multiple times, wrote bylaws in accordance with those new regulations, and then ran everything past the AFC legal team for approval.
It was, in so many ways, a monumental effort.
"We pulled different regulations, we meshed them together, and we walked through line-by-line the final product," says Churchill, who notes — with a certain degree of workmanlike pride — the AFC finally approved the regulation that allowed for the establishment of an SAMC chapter at Fort Detrick in late February. "This club will be all about taking care of the Soldiers and the community."
"I recall working with Command Sergeant Major Churchill at Landstuhl [Regional Medical Center, in Germany] almost ten years ago," says current USAMRDC Command Sergeant Major Victor Laragione, who originally tasked Churchill with standing up USAMRDC's SAMC only a few short months ago. "He was just as passionate about SAMC then as he is now. He has always been a driven NCO who is passionate about the development of our Soldiers."
But volunteer work only tells part of any individual Soldier's story. For Churchill, the rest of that story is filled — as one would expect from any Army career — with myriad deployments and training efforts and relocations (this is, in fact, his third separate posting in the Washington, D.C. area). But in typical nose-to-the-grindstone fashion, Churchill sees each task, no matter how challenging, as one more step to the next level, one more chance to prove worth and talent to himself and the team.
Dig deep enough into the history of the SAMC and you'll find the very first chapter was started some 35 years ago at Fort Hood, which is located in Killeen, Texas. As luck would have it, Killeen is also the place where one Command Sergeant Major Rodmond Churchill initially enlisted in the Army — meaning both share a common background, a common singular starting point. You can call that a coincidence if you like — or maybe the word 'serendipitous' works, too — but if you're Churchill, it's just another example of hustling to be in the right place at the right time ... again.
"The Army molds you into, what I believe, is almost like the CEO of an organization as you climb the ladder," says Churchill, keen to note a Soldier's responsibility is always growing, always expanding. "But beyond that, now you find yourself as a big brother and a father figure in a lot of lives. And the impact you make is unbelievable. So to have someone that has experience to actually help you and mold you with everything from your personal life to, say, how to progress in the military — that is a blessing."
All active Army, USAR, and ARNG Soldiers in the ranks of Corporal through Master Sergeant (MSG)/First Sergeant (1SG), either assigned or attached to AFC units, are eligible for the Sergeant Audie Murphy Award (SAMA). Monthly meetings of the USAMRDC SAMC take place the first Friday of each month at noon via Microsoft Teams. All unit Senior Enlisted Advisors are part of the Fort Detrick SAMC Microsoft Teams group and are expected to share information on the SAMC with their formation.