Sarah Gerke, a Boonville native and Boonville High graduate, is making great strides in the US Army.



Overcoming a number of obstacles, Gerke has worked her way up to the role of Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year at Fort Knox.



In order to earn this accomplishment, she had to beat out more than 800 people in competitions relating to her military duties, including tests of warfare simulations, board interviews, physical fitness tests, written exams and battle drills.


Sarah Gerke, a Boonville native and Boonville High graduate, is making great strides in the US Army.

Overcoming a number of obstacles, Gerke has worked her way up to the role of Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year at Fort Knox.

In order to earn this accomplishment, she had to beat out more than 800 people in competitions relating to her military duties, including tests of warfare simulations, board interviews, physical fitness tests, written exams and battle drills.

These competitors are hand-selected to be the very best of the military, and only the best make it through.

Gerke's mother, Shawna Ballenger, is proud of her.

"I'm just really proud of her," said Ballenger said of Gerke, who recently earned the rank of Staff Sargent.

Gerke was also inducted into the Audie Murphy Club, a private Army organization for enlisted non-commissioned officers only. According to the bylaws of the organization, these soldiers must exemplify leadership characterized by personal concern for the needs, training, development, and welfare of soldiers and concern for families of soldiers.

The club is outstandingly inclusive, with only 3,000 members.

All of that on a "massively sprained" ankle, said Ballenger.

She has one more competition to go through before being up for the NCO of the year competition in Washington, DC.

"It takes just an unbelievable amount of grit to do what she did," said Ballenger.