The Daily Gamecock

Murphy's Club aims to shape ROTC students into future leaders, honor alumni's legacy

<p>Members of Murphy's Club pose with the organization's flag at the 2023 Mountain Man Memorial March. The group took part in the Mountain Man Memorial March's marathon, where participants ran through the mountains of Tennessee wearing 35 pounds on their backs.</p>
Members of Murphy's Club pose with the organization's flag at the 2023 Mountain Man Memorial March. The group took part in the Mountain Man Memorial March's marathon, where participants ran through the mountains of Tennessee wearing 35 pounds on their backs.

Maj. Edward J. Murphy, a graduate of USC's Army ROTC program, lost his life in 2005 while fighting the war on terrorism.

Thirteen years later, Murphy's Club, originally named "Schools PT," was founded to honor his memory and that of other Gamecock Battalion alumni.

Murphy’s Club is working to train Army ROTC students to become effective leaders in the military and prepare them for specialized Army schools. 

The club conducts workouts and mental preparedness activities focused on preparing members for these rigorous programs. The preparations involve various challenges like a 12-mile foot march, the Army combat fitness test and knots tests.

During the summer, several members of the club attend these Specialized Army schools, often located at military bases across the country, said Hunter Grant, a fourth-year finance student and former commander of Murphy's Club. Members of the club have achieved a 100% graduation rate in the army schools they attend.

The schools provide comprehensive training in areas such as airborne operations, medical care, communication, explosives handling, warfare tactics and to try and help equipping soldiers with essential skills for their roles.

Grant said passing Army school is a notable achievement for cadets because it demonstrates their preparedness and readiness for future officer roles, while still being in training to become lieutenants.

Capt. Maxwell Luo, the faculty advisor for Murphy's Club, said USC's ROTC program is part of an 'echelon' or larger command structure responsible for 38 schools across the southeastern region. The higher command distributes 'slots,' which are openings for individuals to attend specialized army schools or programs for each school.

"It's a pretty rare opportunity for people in an ROTC at a college to get sent to these schools, but since we have such a high pass rate, and we do train specifically for it, sometimes we get more school slots," Grant said.

 Luo said specialized Army schools are "extremely challenging." 

"I believe that the mentality that (Murphy's Club) cadets have going into these schools is that of excellence, and they want to excel," Luo said. 

Third-year criminal justice student Zachary Simmons is the commander of Murphy's Club. He completed the U.S. Army's Sapper Leader Course, a rigorous combat engineering training that involves tasks like construction and demolition.

It is difficult to get selected for the program as there is a small number of slots available to be filled, he said. 

"Our brigade, representing about 40 universities, had only three openings available for this (course)," Simmons said. "Thanks to my involvement in the club and other activities, I was fortunate enough to secure one of those three spots, which is amazing. Without the club, I wouldn't have had this opportunity." 

The club focuses on teaching peer leadership skills, which Grant said are essential for their future roles as lieutenants in the Army where they'll lead others. Students with leadership positions conduct one-on-one meetings with each member to assess their strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.

Members also help extend support through academic assistance, which covers both ROTC-specific knowledge and external USC schooling, as well as community service initiatives. The approach ensures that members are well-prepared for their roles within the club and the broader ROTC battalion, Grant said. 

Anyone enrolled in Army ROTC at USC can come and try out for the club, Grant said.

Tryouts involve mental and physical assessments to evaluate leadership and stress management abilities. The club seeks quality leaders dedicated to continual self-improvement and support of others, he said.

Murphy's Club meets every weekday morning for workouts, beginning on average at 6 a.m., with additional meetings as needed. The ROTC building is the main meeting spot for members, but the club also engages in off-campus activities like running sessions or training at Fort Jackson. 

Second-year economics student Max Schorvitz is the club's finance officer. He found out about Murphy's Club through the South Carolina ROTC Army website, and made it his goal to join his freshman year. 

"Everybody in this club is motivated to another level. They push each other daily," Schorvitz said. "It's not a once-a-week or twice-a-week commitment, it's a five days a week commitment, and then even some weekends." 

Schorvitz said that despite the challenging nature of the club's tryouts, the valuable experiences he gained from them have significantly contributed to his improvement. Trying out for the club has been more beneficial and educational than any aspect of his membership since then, he said. 

"There's been a lot of times where I'm just sore, and it's specifically from things that have to do with Murphy's club, but it makes you a better person, and it kind of got me off to a fast start because it was one of the first things that I tried to do (in college)," Schorvitz said. "It's a lot of stuff to do, but it's worthwhile." 

Grant said Murphy's Club aims to engage more with the campus community, although the club's members have to be in Army ROTC to join. They began hosting an annual powerlifting competition with the Gamecock Barbell Club and are hoping to work with more campus organizations in the future. 

 The event at first was only for those in ROTC, but in 2023, it was opened to anyone who would like to participate. Both groups will be holding the competition for the third year in a row at the end of April.

"We're going to run through all the major lifts for powerlifting just like a traditional, actual powerlifting meet with (USA Power Lifting) qualified judges," Luo said. "This is one of the larger events that we're really integrating with clubs outside of ROTC." 

Outside of their regular meetings, Murphy's Club works closely with Murphy's wife and her kids throughout the year, Grant said.

Since Murphy was a victim of a helicopter crash with many other people, there is a separate foundation called the Windy25 Memorial Fundthat commemorates all 18 people involved in the crash. The Murphy family also attends an annual 5k organized by the club. The next one is scheduled for April 20 at 10 a.m. at the ROTC building

Lou said the Windy25 in the fund's name refers to the helicopter involved in the crash that killed Murphy. The memorial fund was put together by the families of Murphy and the other service members that were killed in the crash. Murphy's wife coming to the club's 5k event helps reinforce the Army's deep respect for Gold Star families, Lou said.

Schorvitz said the club hopes to preserve Major Murphy's legacy and continue to ensure that their actions uphold his name and memory.

"We're trying to do something for ourselves and for the community, but what sets us apart is that we're doing it in somebody's memory, in somebody's name" Schorvitz said. "We're not just living up to our own name, but we're doing it to represent somebody else, something bigger than ourselves."