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CIMT recognizes Drill Sergeant of the Year 2020

By Staff Sgt. Joshua Magbanua 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training recognized the 2020 Drill Sergeant of the Year Sept 10 at Fort Eustis.

CIMT officials congratulated Army Staff Sgt. Erik A. Rostamo for serving as an example to the Army’s drill sergeants. Each year across the Army, drill sergeants compete not only for a coveted title, but also for an advisory position for the Army’s Initial Entry Training program.

Rostamo is a St. Michael, Minnesota, native who served as a drill sergeant at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

“It feels good to bring this to the military police regiment, to the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, and to my battalion—that’s the most important thing to me,” said Rostamo, who is a military police officer by trade. “It’s not about me, it’s about the regiment; it’s about bringing DSOY to Fort Leonard Wood.”

The process to become DSOY is a rigorous competition involving physical training, marksmanship, and tests on knowledge of Army regulations. Rostamo compared the process to a play-off bracket, with drill sergeants beginning at their local installations and the remaining top candidates converging for a best-of-the-best competition hosted by the CIMT.

“You get evaluated on anything you have to teach the privates—it’s your ability to instruct,” Rostamo added.

Last year’s DSOY, Army Sgt. 1st Class Earnest J. Knight II, noted that DSOY is more than just a prestigious title. The program plays an important role in the development of current and future Soldiers.

“The DSOY’s main role is to continuously review training guidance and regulations in order to mentor Army drill sergeants on lessons learned, training trends, and best courses of actions,” Knight said. “The DSOY is a servant leader who is tasked to assist and advise drill sergeants throughout the Initial Entry Training Enterprise.”

Knight expressed how pleased he was to pass on the baton of DSOY, adding that he is confident that the program is in good hands under Rostamo.

“As a servant leader, it is gratifying to see the Drill Sergeant program continue to thrive, and DSOY Rostamo demonstrated his ability to take the program to the next level,” Knight said.

While Rostamo appreciated his new accolades, he emphasized that being a drill sergeant isn’t just about yelling at recruits and making them engage in hard physical training; it’s about building the next generation of Soldiers.

“To be a successful drill sergeant, you actually have to invest in the privates,” said Rostamo. “You have to invest a lot of time, training, teaching, coaching, and mentoring. That’s someone’s family member that they trusted me to take care of.”

Rostamo mentioned that he looks forward to serving in his new capacity at CIMT, adding that he will use his position to influence drill sergeants across the Army to look upon their recruits with a sense of pride.

“I am proud of the privates I brought into the force,” Rostamo said. “That’s what I want to drive home: they are America’s sons and daughters, and treating them with dignity and respect goes a long way.”

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