FORT JACKSON, S.C. – Seven minutes to find 25 uniform errors. But you have to do it after a punishing day that has tested your physical and mental capacities. And you have to do it in the heavy heat of the Carolina woodlands as sand fleas fight mosquitos for every square inch of your body.
That’s just one of 30 events tackled today by six competitors vying to be the Army’s Drill Sergeant of the Year.
The 25 uniform errors included five on the ACU and 10 each on a male and female ASU. The competitors were confident they found most, but a couple of items proved elusive. The error most overlooked was on the male ASU. Had inspectors asked the trainee to unbutton his blouse, they would have seen he lacked a name tag and was wearing a clown-like half tie (shown below).
Second on the list of missed items: ribbons not in the correct order of precedence.
The inspections especially stretched Staff Sgt. John Heslin. As Fort Benning’s Drill Sergeant of the Year, he is not accustomed to training women. But knowing that non-infantry basic training is a coed community, he took the time to hone his skills beforehand.
“I made sure I knew things like the uniform regs and stuff, but ultimately it was simply a matter of treating them like everyone else,” the fire support specialist said. “I just didn’t let it bother me.”
In closing, a quick “Hooah” to three trainees from Foxtrot 3-34: PV2 Benjamin Walbert, slated to be a structural engineer; PFC Tyler Shepard, headed to air and missile defense; and Pvt. Jessica DeVader, who will be an image analyst. They stood strong for nearly three hours of uniform inspections. And they weren’t in an air-conditioned Air Force tent … this trio sucked it up and sweated it out like the soldiers Fort Jackson has trained them to be. All three graduate July 7.