JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
Every year, across the U.S. Army, drill sergeants compete against each other to find the best of the best.
The Drill Sergeant of the Year competition tests the knowledge of Warrior Tasks, battle drills, weapons qualifications, drill and ceremony, as well as their physical abilities.
The competition starts at the company level and works its way up to the four-day competition for the Army title. Throughout the year, drill sergeants are training in-between their duties as drill sergeants and during their spare time.
“The biggest thing I did was increase my physical training for the events I felt weakest in,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Ramirez, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 210th Aviation Regiment, 128th Avn. Brigade drill sergeant and last year’s Brigade winner. “I would study three publications a week to avoid getting overwhelmed with information and every time I was driving alone in my vehicle I would practice my biography and pretend as if I was in front of a board.”
Ramirez also recommends reading the STP 21-1-SMCT, Soldiers Manual of Common Tasks Warrior Skill Level 1, even though it may seem as basic knowledge, he said it can help going back to the basics.
While the Drill Sergeant of the Year must be at peek physical performance and must have impeccable Army knowledge, they also have to be able to teach those abilities to the Soldiers they train. To asses this, the drill sergeants are evaluated by a board at the end of the competition to test their leadership knowledge and their ability to train their Soldiers.
“For me, this seemed like a challenge,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Chilcote, Alpha Company, 1st Btn., 210th Avn. Reg., 128th Avn. Bde. drill sergeant. “But in the end, you already know most of the stuff, you just have to remember it.”
For Chilcote, he prepares for the competition at the same time he is training his Soldiers. As his company performs PT, he is working out with his Soldiers and leading them by example.
For many new Soldiers, drill sergeants are some of the first individuals they see when they enter the Army. It is the duty of these drill sergeants to teach new Soldiers in the way of the Army and only a few are entrusted with this duty. The Drill Sergeant of the Year competition is just one way the Army can thank and recognize the best of the best.